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13. THE LIFE OF ST. JEROME, in Six Books. From the original 

Spanish of Fray Jose de Siguenza, 1595, Monk of the Royal Monastery 
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14. JOSEPHIANA, in Five Books. {In preparation. 



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' Those who come to see the wonder of the world (the Escorial), 
do not behold the principal wonder it contains if they do not see 
Father Jos6 de Siguenza ; for, in view of his merits, I say that his 
fame will last longer than the building, despite that it has every mark 
and characteristic of solidity and durability. ' — Words of Philip II. 
of Spain. 











' They that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament : 
and they that instruct many to justice, as stars for all eternity.' — 
Daniel xii. 


The Courteous Solitary, 
The Silent Statesman, 
The Eloquent without Voice, 
The Orator without a Senate : 
The Demosthenes of the Desert, 
The great Christian Cicero, 
A Plato without Republic, 
The Sage without an Athens : 

Is it then a miracle 

That he should teach, write, conquer, 

And pray so much ? 

The Master without Schools, 
The Preceptor without Salary, 
The Oracle without a Delphos, 
The Apollo ever consulted : 

The Interpreter of the King, 
The Cloistered Senator, 
The Applause of the Cortes, 
The Silence of the Cloisters : 

Is it then a miracle 

That he should teach, write, conquer, 

And pray so much f 

The Aaron to a Moses, 
The Spirit of Paul, 
The faithful Tertullian, 
The expurgated Origen : 


The Trilinguist of the College, 
Of Doctors the Fourth, 
Without Consistory the Red Hat, 
A Solomon ever sought after : 

Is it then a miracle 

That he should teach, write, conquer, 

And pray so much ? 

The Greek passed on to Rome, 
The Roman of Palestine, 
The Dweller in Syria, 
The Hermit of Stridon : 

The Man of bravest worth 
The Dalmatians ever had, 
The Pen of finest point 
Past ages had beheld : 

Is it then a miracle 

That he should teach, write, conquer, 

And pray so much ? 

The Grand Chancellor of the Kingdom, 
The Reformer of States, 
The Senior in a full Cloister, 

The President of the Courts : 
The Ruler in disputes, — 
The Censor of the Sacred Palace ! 
He who by dying honoured Honorius, 
He who by his birth honoured Constantius : 

Is it then a miracle 

That he should teach, write, conquer, 

And pray so much ? 

The sharp sword of the Heretics, 
The hard Iron of the Arians ; 
Profound knowledge, which engulphed 
A sea of Pelagians : 

The Sentinel against Vigilantius, 
The Light against the Luciferians, 
The Advocate of Mary 
Against Helvidius and his insults : 


Is it then a miracle 

That he should teach, write, conquer, 

And pray so much f 

The Homer of Paula, 
Of Infantas the Tutor, 
The first among Youths, 
The last of the Ancients : 
A David in his Bethlehem, 
Behind the Star the Wise man, 
The Ox at the Crib, ruminating, — 
The gentle Ass tethered to the Stall ! 

Is it then a miracle 

That he should teach, write, conquer, 

And pray so much ? 


The venerable monks of the Order of St. Jerome in Madrid 
in 1853, desirous of preserving this valuable work on the 
Life of St. Jerome, written by a monk universally con- 
sidered as one of the most brilliant classical writers of 
Spain, both for purity of style and grandeur of diction, 
decided upon publishing a new edition. 

The work is divided into Six Books, comprising the 
Seven Ages of Man. The original was published in 1595, 
and formed a work of some 580 pages of about 400 words. 
The new edition, of which the present issue is a transla- 
tion, was brought out with two short discourses by Fray 
Juan Gonzalez on the learned author, an epitome of which 
I proceed to give in English, in order to afford the reader 
some idea of the Spanish writer of the renowned Life of 
Saint Jerome. 

" At the middle of the sixteenth century, at the period 
when in Spain Belles- Lettres were as advanced as the 
profession of arms, and when both the study of letters and 
the profession of arms were as much attended to as religion 
itself, there was born in the city of Sigiienza the venerable 
and renowned historian who contributed to the Jeromite 
Order so much glory, and to letters so great an advance- 
ment. From his earliest years this classical writer 
manifested a great love of study, and the progress he made 
in the years of his childhood and youth, was so marked 


that all who knew him felt convinced that he would some 
day prove to be no ordinary man, since he was becoming 
so distinguished at the very commencement of life. The 
religious orders, with their glorious traditions, scientific 
and literary, afforded a beneficent asylum to science, as well 
as to virtue, and in the solitude of their cloisters, saints 
and sages grew up together and flourished. In those days 
the religious of St. Jerome were much esteemed, and 
protected by the Spanish monarchs, and it was into this 
Order that our student of Sigtienza sought to enter and 
obtained admission, where he soon surpassed his, com- 
panions in learning and talent. 

After repeated entreaties, he received the holy habit in 
the celebrated monastery del Parral de Segovia, in which 
the uncle of our novice was one of the community. To be 
able to state how the monks watched his progress in the 
strict observance of the rule, and his growth in virtue, 
would be a sufficient matter for a whole treatise. The 
holy monks, who considered that Father Joseph of Sigtienza 
was destined for great things, sent him to the Royal 
College of San Lorenzo to complete his studies, where, 
later on, he became one of the first religious when, in 1575, 
the monks were translated from Parral to the sumptuous 
monastery that Philip II. bequeathed to future generations. 
Here, first as a disciple, and subsequently as master, he 
acquired great renown for his piety and assiduity in study, 
so much so, that he acquired a great influence among his 
companions, and an authority which was acknowledged 
even by that great king, who ever listened to him with 
deepest respect. 

And as it is written, " he who humbleth himself shall 
be exalted," the more Father Sigiienza sought to conceal 
himself in this retreat, with no other solace but his books, 
all the more did the monasteries of his Order exert all their 


powers to induce him to accept the prelacy, of which he 
had a great dread. But it could not be allowed that 
Father Sigiienza should remain in humble obscurity. It 
had seemed to the wise monk, that, by entering the royal 
monastery of San Lorenzo, where, by the founder's inten- 
tion, the monks were not to leave that house for another 
of their Order, he would be left in undisturbed peace, so 
he resolved to profess a second time, and thus be free from 
any acceptance of higher charges. At that time there 
dwelt in San Lorenzo the illustrious Arias Montana, and 
our virtuous monk became his disciple. So rapidly, under 
this wise master, did Father Sigiienza advance in the 
knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages, and, in 
the science of the sacred Scriptures, that one of the glories 
of this master, was the honour of having left such a disciple 
as his successor. 

The historical and learned subjects executed on the 
domes and walls of the magnificent library of San Lorenzo 
by the excellent Italian artist Peregin de Peregrini, were 
chosen by Sigiienza, who had succeeded the erudite Arias 
Montana in the office of chief librarian. 

Philip II. was wont to say : " Those who come to see 
this wonder of the world, do not see the principal wonder it 
contains if they do not see Father Jose" de Sigiienza ; for, in 
view of his merits, I say that his fame will last longer 
than the building, despite that it has every mark and char- 
acteristic of solidity and durability." On another occasion, 
when the ministers who surrounded the king were dis- 
cussing the learning of Sigiienza, qualifying him virtuous, 
saintly, and learned, Philip II. turned to them and said, 
" Why fatigue yourselves recounting what he is and what 
he knows ? Better state what Jose" de Sigiienza does not 
know, and you will end the discussion sooner." 

Inflexible towards himself, charitable and indulgent 


to others, most tenderly loving towards God, in study- 
untiring, ever foremost in the religious observance of 
humility and all other Christian virtues, a true model of 
the religious life, Father Jose de Sigiienza was justly 
renowned in life, and died the death of a saintly man on 
the 22nd of May 1606. His memory is deeply respected 
in the holy Order wherein he professed, and of his virtues 
the loftiest idea is preserved." \ 

" The chief works he bequeathed to us by his profound 
learning were the history, or life, which is the subject of this 
book, and two parts of the history of his Order." 

" Father Jose of Sigiienza is rightly considered to be 
one of the first Castilian classical writers, and under his 
brilliant pen the rich, harmonious language of Castile has 
lent itself grandly to develop the ideas of the illustrious 

This history, or life of St. Jerome, is a masterpiece in 
more senses than one ; and in our epoch, when every one 
writes, and the greater number do so in a flippant 
manner, it appears to me, that the Jeromite Fathers have 
rendered a signal service to science and letters, to reprint 
his grand work at their expense ; a work which has long 
been sought after by all erudite men who love the literature 
of Spain. It is this work which I have translated, that my 
humble efforts may make it known to the English-speaking 
races, who appreciate all that is grand and noble, and true 
of all nations, and even give them an honoured place in 
their libraries. 


St. Scholastica's Retreat, 
Clapton, N.E., 1907. 


He who follows with attention the course of events 
since the commencement of the world until the present 
time, will clearly discern the care and providence with 
which Heaven has always come forward to remedy the 
needs of men. The eyes of God are far-seeing, without 
limit of place or time, and He foresees all the events 
and occurrences which are to take place in this world of 
ours, and which succeed one another. 

From this proceeds that He equally calls by their 
name, and is replied to, by all things which are, and by 
those which are not. He sees all things, penetrates 
every secret, foresees and disposes all human events 
with such harmony, that each fulfils its place in the 
beauteous scheme of creation, yet does not exceed its 
appointed and just meed and term. This is so clearly 
manifested in the order of nature that it is apparent to 
the simplest mind ; while in the order of the super- 
natural, and in the demands of the free will of human 
beings, this divine truth shines forth still more 

The wisdom of God saw that the malice and envy 
of the devil would have no end, and his pride would not 
be diminished a single point, rather that it would con- 
tinue to increase in an equal degree with the progress 
of the ages, striving throughout all time to take from 


God that glory which is His due, and deprive man of 
the heavenly riches that are promised him. Therefore 
God designed to provide a remedy against the malice 
and the ravages caused by the envy and wickedness of 
the Evil One. 

In the days when the Chaldeans strove to persuade 
the world that all things were dependent on the course 
of the stars, and that they were the primary and true 
cause of human events, a deceit wherewith the enemy 
beguiled men through their understanding, God raised 
up the patriarch Abraham, who delivered them from 
their blindness and superstition, instructed them in 
right principles, thus bequeathing to the world an 
admirable model of true philosophy, of holy faith and 
divine obedience, and who made the light of. God's 
truth to shine upon those souls who had been blinded 
by the false doctrine of their teachers. At a later 
period, the Egyptians, deluded by the craft of this 
same enemy, fell into superstition and witchcrafts, and 
the devil (the better to deceive them) enveloped them 
under the appearances of things secret and divine. To 
remedy this evil, God provided a Moses, who, after 
obtaining from their science all that was needed of 
information, openly manifested to them upon what vain 
foundations they had erected all their beliefs ; and that, 
excepting those things which, through His divine 
mercy, were communicated in the supernatural order to 
men, all else was illusion and phantasy, or what was 
only of the earth, earthly. 

When the people of Israel were in such a state of 
transgression and wickedness that, forgetful of the holy 
Law which they had received of God through the hands 
of His holy angels, they fell into a miserable idolatry, 
God raised up a Samuel who corrected them, and kept 


them faithful to the ancient and good customs of their 
forefathers; quelled the disorder which reigned amongst 
the people, and established order and government under 
the rule of one supreme head, their king. Some, alas, 
indeed many of their kings, in order to follow their 
pleasures and interests, contemned the holy laws and 
ceremonies which had been given them from heaven, 
and fell, dragging with them the greater number of the 
people who were inclined to follow the example of their 
prince into the former idolatry, and with it into every 
species of vice imaginable. To rectify so great an 
abuse, it was needed that God should provide for them, 
as He usually does, a remedy, and this in the person of 
an Elias, whose strength of virtue should be commen- 
surate with the wickedness of the king and people ! 
And Elias was a man who in his life, words, work, and 
zeal, was such a contrast to all that was the usage in 
Israel, that it was clearly manifest that he had been 
raised by God Himself, in order to be the general 
remedy for so many evils. 

The chosen people were no less in an extreme state 
of misery when the intruder Herod reigned, nor were 
the vices of avarice, ambition, hypocrisy, usury, simony, 
and homicide less predominant when God raised a new 
and no less zealous Elias. To raise is called in the 
holy Scriptures the provision which God makes of 
these holy ministers, both because (comparatively 
speaking) all other men are, as it were, fallen, and 
overthrown in their sins, as because these chosen men 
of God rise up, and are standing erect, courageous, and 
ready to obey whatever God should command them. 
The man whom God raised up at this era was John 
the Baptist, by whom He not only remedied the 
tide of so many evils and false doctrines, but further- 


more preordained that he should be the precursor of 
the Messiah, or the harbinger of the Morning Star, 
of the new Sun and Light which was about to come 
into the world. This light declared by the same Sun 
Jesus Christ, and the seed of the regeneration of the 
kingdom and freedom of mankind, together with the 
proclamation of the Apostles made manifest and planted, 
watered and made fruitful by the blood of the martyrs, 
seemed, and it was so, as though the world had been 
created anew, and stripped of the old coil of the ancient 
serpent, and had taken a new lustre of holiness of life 
and heavenly customs, and that at His coming the wild 
beasts, which under the covert of former shadows had 
taken so many victims in the world, now withdrew, 
dazed and terrified, to the caves out of which they had 
sallied forth. 

The devil could not brook seeing himself thus foiled 
and dethroned on all sides, and man restored to so 
much blessedness ; and although he could not deny to 
God the glory of the victory, nevertheless he en- 
deavoured to place hindrances to its bringing forth fruit. 
He gathered together all his forces, and sharpening 
more than ever the subtlety of his malice ; he opened 
wide the door of the abyss to all the evils which could 
come out of it, and thus armed anew for the combat 
of souls, he determined all together, as in a closed 
squadron, to assail yet more the Church of Jesus Christ ! 

The devil then found the means by which the blood 
of the martyrs, which had scarcely been wiped away, 
should again become freshened by the apostasy of Julian 
Augustus, the various other persecutions, and heresies 
of that period, and which through the ambition of 
men to increase in the breasts of men to such a degree 
that it would end in open disobedience to the Church. 


He spread sleep over the eyes of the shepherds and 
their flocks, and while men slumbered he sowed cockle 
of errors and heresies, evil doctrines, vain studies and 
pernicious customs, aliens all to the evangelical sin- 
cerity ; thus he brought into the world a great number 
of heresiarchs, each of whom advanced some new 
error which wearied generally Christianity. He also 
awakened in the hearts of those who remained faithful 
within the Church, pride, covetousness, the desire of 
riches and of fame, of dignities, honours, glory, and 
pleasures ! Finally he left no stone upon stone in his 
efforts to ruin the peace and liberty of the House of the 
Lord itself, and to destroy the tranquillity enjoyed by 
His servants, and those the Church had adopted as her 
children in the teaching and doctrine of the Gospel, so 
that these should doubt the stability of her powers. 
But God did not forget His accustomed mercy — He 
Who now looks upon us not only as the God and Master 
of all things, but also as a Father and Brother ; there- 
fore our Divine Lord sent to countervail the fury of so 
many evils of those times illustrious and noble men full 
of sanctity and doctrine, to withstand, like the bulwarks 
of a fortified city, the attacks of the invading hosts, and 
to apply efficacious remedies to the snares of the 
wicked foe, and oppose so many calamities. Of the 
number of these great men, like a morning star shining 
brilliantly among the constellations and like a sun 
outshining the stars themselves, came forth resplen- 
dently our great and saintly Jerome, Doctor, whom God 
seemed to have raised up endowed with all that could 
be desired of medicine and remedy, to clear away 
what the devil in so many ages had attempted to 
spread little by little, and the evils which he had seem- 
ingly planted. 


It is the life of this great man that I purpose to 
write in the Castilian language in a more lengthy 
manner than has ever been written before, either in 
Spanish or in Latin — a task of great difficulty, by reason 
of its historic value, and on account of the subject- 
matter, varied and grave, an honourable undertaking, 
yet difficult of issue. Few have hitherto grasped the 
history of it ; saints' lives many indeed have under- 
. taken to write ; whether these have carried forward 
their intent successfully, it is difficult to judge, unless 
by admitting new laws unknown to the ancients. In 
regard to the Castilian language, if it is used simply it 
is condemned ; if written with care it appears affected — a 
tongue little used, cultivated by the few ; whilst those 
who think they know it, also think that in order to 
speak it well, it should be made up of new vocabularies 
which were not known to our forefathers. The 
subject-matter, grave and lofty, teems with singular 
contrarieties, which we find difficult to compare with 
other saints. At one point we find a vivid faith 
most constant in times of deadly depression and indeci- 
sion, an extreme obedience to Pope and Church, a 
thing, indeed, for all times, but in these, of greatest 
importance. Various peregrinations, temptations of the 
devils, miraculous punishments, and trials made by God 
in His saint ; a great renunciation of country, of parents, 
brethren, friends, and allies, with an utter forgetfulness 
and denial in its highest degree of the things of life, like 
to a new sampler of Abraham. Further on we find 
him, the master of a great variety of tongues, endowed 
with the knowledge of rare languages ; not only Greek 
and Hebrew, but even Chaldaic, Arabic, Syrian, and 
other dialects — a thing in those days, and also in ours, 
possessed by the few, despised by some, held in 


suspicion by others ; so greatly can ignorance work, 
even when levelled against persons held in authority by 
the world, which dares to blaspheme what it is ignorant 
of. Interpretations of Holy Writ, various versions, 
questions oftentimes disputed and not duly investigated 
on account of their difficulty and of the many opinions, 
affairs in which the many either speak obscurely or 
through the mouths of others who are but little better 
informed than themselves. Descriptions of countries, 
more particularly of the Holy Land, difficult to portray 
owing to the distance, and by reason of the changes 
effected by the times, the peoples, places, and names. 

Yet, that not all be good (although all is good to 
the good), we shall witness evil, mean behaviours, and 
great ingratitude against the saint, false testimonies, 
malice, lies, wrongs done him by friends and enemies — 
all this to need almost the description of a Moses and 
his life to portray our saint, a thing as it were im- 
possible were it not that the veil has been already 
removed; the establishment and the order of the 
services of the Church and divine worship ; the singing 
of the Psalms, as well as other embellishments and 
greater lustre of the holy ceremonies ; his assistance in 
the business of the Pope, and replies to the causes 
of faith, and determinations of the Councils — affairs all 
of them of great difficulty and obscurity, wherein is 
barely found the way to trace the lines of demarcation. 
Furthermore, to trace out and show the sincerity and 
truth with which so many things were handled by one 
man only; the small interest which the saint ex- 
perienced from men; the ingratitude of those who 
profited by his labours, all this manifests from head to 
foot a Samuel who himself went through ' all this at 
the hands of the city and people, not more ungrateful 


towards him than ungrateful Rome behaved towards 
Jerome. Likewise must be stated and shown a free heart 
full of evangelical fortitude, established on the security 
of his own conscience, who looked not to the lineage 
of persons, their state, their office, their vices; who 
prescribed rules, who administered reprehensions, who 
gave counsels to such a variety of persons, priests and 
monks, bishops and knights, maidens, widows, religious 
women and children, married persons, fathers and 
mothers, masters and servants ; who greatly loved the 
little ones if they were saintly; who humbled the pride 
of the great ones of the earth if they were evil ; and 
who ever desired to exercise the humblest offices ; 
large-hearted to reject what the world so unreasoningly 
calls greatness — all this is no less than to manifest the 
lives of an Elias and St. John newly returned to the 
world ! 

And yet more than this, we shall see, as it behoves 
to state, the rigors of so much penance, the wearing of 
a hairshirt, the enduring of chains, nakedness, hunger, 
strikings of the breast, long and weary illnesses, fastings 
almost unprecedented, journeyings into deserts, the com- 
panionship of wild beasts, the terrible temptations of the 
devils, and the still greater persecutions by heretics, 
prolonged prayers, revelations, raptures, ecstasies, and 
extraordinary excesses of the soul, discomforts of the 
body, weariness of spirit, untold labours, profound studies, 
abstruse writings by new and unexplored yet true paths — 
all this presupposes almost an impossible existence, and 
as it were little less than a miracle to succeed in so 
many details. Yet it is, however, a great assistance, and 
of much encouragement to us, that (independently of the 
reason and foundation of obedience, which can do much 
— indeed, all it dares) our saint on several well-nigh 


imperative occasions wrote down many of his acts, and 
that in his descriptions he was as scrupulous in their 
statements as he had been in fulfilling them. We might 
well say of him that which was said of Caesar when writing 
the commentary of his deeds, that he had done so only to 
leave matter for writers ; yet he took the matter off their 
hands, because no one could recount the deeds better than 
himself. This applies to Jerome more appropriately, 
because, although as regards purity of language few 
equalled Caesar, yet as to the fidelity of his statements he 
bears no comparison with Jerome. Hence the principal 
part of this history will be his own descriptions, rendered 
with fidelity, in accordance with the best admitted rules 
of translation, assisted also by reliable authors, taking 
small heed of others, that, at the price of being considered 
astute, gave way to malice and impiety, desirous of taking 
away on many occasions a large portion of the glory from 
that great Father whom the Holy Church with loud public 
voice willed to style great amid the doctors ; because if 
Rome had her Fabiis and Valeriis, Greece her Alexander, 
France her Charles, on whom was bestowed the surname 
of ' Great ' by reason of achievements by pen or sword, 
with far greater motive and reason does the Church 
bestow the appellation on her Jerome for his thousand 
victories gained over heretics, and as many more won by 
the grandeur of his pen. 

The order of procedure followed in writing this Life 
will be the same as the saint followed ; for since God 
bestowed on him such length of days that he passed 
through all the ages and periods which divide the life 
of man, we shall divide the history into the Seven Ages 
of Man, because God willed that his long life should give 
us to understand the great importance his life would be to 
the world. The narrative will be in six books, the better 


to distinguish the various stages, because the small 
patience of readers of the present day does not admit 
of that continuity which the ancients so loved. 

Should the judgment of such as know what writing 
history is, be offended at the many digressions, I think 
they will also perceive, that they are not made without a 
purpose, and that it is the life of a saint wherein of the 
three component parts which the historian is bound to 
follow, the principal one must needs be erudition and 
economy, and the inculcation of good customs. The 
two first ages will form the first book, since the subject- 
matter is so short ; and each book will be divided into 
discourses, as the title of the work leaves me exonerated 
from following the precise laws of history. 




Proem ........ 3 

On the Birthplace, Parentage, and Name of St. Jerome . 10 


The Parents of St. Jerome send him to Rome to pursue 
his Studies — What these Studies were, and what the 
Saint did ....... 23 


The Baptism of St. Jerome in Rome — The reason why 

Baptism was deferred . . . . -39 


On the Purity and the Virginity which St. Jerome pre- 
served during his Life . . • -S3 





Proem ........ 73 


After St. Jerome had received the Sacrament of Baptism 
he departed to france, to visit the learned men 
there and to prosecute his studies — he enters a 
Desert with Bonosus . . . . .78 


St. Jerome returns from France — He seeks Entrance into 
a Profession — Here is declared what it is to enter 
into the Profession of the Church ; and what was 
the Monastic State in former Times . . -93 


St. Jerome declares to his Parents and Friends his Re- 

Place selected for carrying out his Purpose . . 114 


On the first Journey which St. Jerome undertook to the 
Holy Land — The various Places he visited previous 
to entering the desert . . . . . 130 


St. Jerome goes to dwell in the Desert — What manner 
of Life he led there — The great Penances he 
performed . . . . . . 143 




Proem . . . . . . . .163 


St. Jerome commences in the Desert the Study of Hebrew 166 


St. Jerome suffers many Temptations in the Desert — He is 

punished by god in an extraordinary vision . -177 


Satan persecutes St. Jerome in the Desert by means of 

Heretics until he forces him to quit it . .190 


St. Jerome dwells in Antioch — Is ordained Priest by the 
Patriarch Paulinus — Becomes a Disciple of Apolli- 
naris — Proceeds to Constantinople to study under 
St. Gregory Nazianzen — St. Jerome returns to Pales- 
tine — He corresponds with St. Damasus . . . 207 


St. Jerome returns to Rome; assists Pope Damasus in 

all affairs of the church . . . . .224 


St. Jerome a Cardinal — The antiquity of this Dignity is 

proved — Herein is declared the Name and Office . 239 




Proem ....... 255 


St. Jerome establishes the Order of the Divine Worship in 
Rome, and draws up the holy Ceremonies of the 
Church — He prescribes the Alleluia to be sung in 
the Roman Liturgy . ... . . .259 


St. Jerome prescribes the Offices of the Church, the 

Formulary of the Prayers, and the Rite of holy Mass 271 


St. Jerome translates the Holy Scriptures at the Petition 
of St. Damasus, with especial reference to the 
Psalms — The Translation of the Septuagint is here 
considered ....... 292 


Motives which urged St. Jerome to undertake the trans- 
lation of the Scriptures into Latin from the Hebrew 
Text — The Truth and Fulness of the Text — Proofs 
are brought forward that the Vulgate Translation is 
St. Jerome's ....... 322 


St. Jerome translates the Sacred Scriptures into Slavonic 

— He arranges the Divine Office .... 336 




The Life led by St. Jerome in Rome — The Exercises he 
practised — What Effects his Words and Example 
produced ....... 346 


Continuation of the Life and Labours of St. Jerome in Rome 
— Information is afforded respecting some Works he 
composed ....... 363 


St. Jerome is persecuted in Rome — False Testimonies raised 

against him — quits rome for the holy land . -374 

The Journey of St. Jerome from Rome to the Holy Land . 388 


St. Jerome goes from Jerusalem to Egypt — Proceeds to the 
Deserts of Nitria — Visits the holy Monks dwelling 
there — Paula arrives at Bethlehem . . . 399 


St. Paula builds four Monasteries in Bethlehem and St. 

Jerome one — He washes the Feet of the Pilgrims . 408 


What St. Jerome effected during the First Years of his 

Residence in Bethlehem . . . . .418 




Proem ........ 427 


St. Jerome quits Bethlehem for Alexandria to converse 

WITH DlDYMUS . . . . . . -431 


St. Jerome seeks a Hebrew Preceptor in order to perfect 

himself in the language ..... 437 


on some of the pious labours which st. jerome undertook 

from the Hebrew to enrich the Church . -445 


St. Jerome diligently visits the whole of the Holy Land 
with the object of understanding the Chronicles, and 
the other Books of the Sacred Scriptures . -453 


St. Jerome composed a Martyrology — The Reason for 

writing martyrologies in the church . . -459 



at the Petition of various Persons whilst in Bethlehem 470 




The Narrative is continued of the literary Documents left 
by St. Jerome in the Church ; made chiefly at the 
Petition of pious Persons ..... 489 


Account of what happened to St. Jerome with a Lion in 
the Bethlehem Monastery — Ordination of his Brother 
Paulinus — Disputes that arise between St. Jerome and 
John of Jerusalem . . . . . .510 


Disputes arise between our holy Doctor, St. Jerome, and 

Rufinus — Causes of the same . . . 535 

Death of the saintly Matron Paula . . . -557 


Serious but pious Controversies arise between St. Jerome 

and St. Augustine — The end of these Contentions . 571 



Proem ........ 603 


St. Jerome writes Commentaries on the Prophets Daniel 

and Isaiah — He is stricken by a severe Illness . 609 




By reason of the entry of Alaric into Rome, many Romans 
resorted to st. jerome at bethlehem — he writes the 
Commentaries on Ezechiel and Jeremias — He also writes 
other Works — Death of the holy Virgin Eustochium . 623 


The Passing Away and Death of the glorious Doctor, St. 
Jerome . ...... 646 




Some of the greatest philosophers have divided the course 
of human life into ten septenaries, or weeks of years, as 
appears by some verses of Solon the Athenian, which 
are well known. Nevertheless, the distinction made by 
Hippocrates, the prince of good philosophy and of medicine, 
has been more generally received, which divides the whole 
period of man's life into seven ages. By this division the 
first age is called infancy, in which the child, not as yet 
possessing any teeth, is unable to articulate words, from 
which fact it is called an infant. This period lasts till its 
seventh year of age. The second period extends over 
another seven years, that is to say, until the child reaches 
the age of fourteen, when he attains the age of puberty. 
Then follows adolescence, which continues up to twenty- 
one or twenty -two years of age, at which period the 
beard begins to grow and other signs of manhood show 
themselves. The fourth period includes youth, which 
lasts up to thirty, when the powers and strength of the 
body have become perfected, the man having attained his 
full number and height. The fifth is called manhood, and 
then he is in full possession of his manliness ; and it may 
be said of this period that nature, so far as the body is 
concerned, is stationary in her work, having attained the 
zenith of human life ; and this condition lasts until his 
forty-ninth year. Then speedily follows senescence, that 



time of life in which the bloom of youth commences to 
decline, and manly beauty to fade, whose limits are so 
short that it only extends to the fifty-sixth year. From 
that time forward, according to the common opinion, the 
term is old age, or decrepitude, without assigning any 
further limit or period, as St. Augustine says, 1 who, com- 
paring the ages of man with those of the world, affirms that 
senescence lasts as long as all the other six periods together, 
because, commencing at latest from the sixtieth year, it 
may be prolonged even to the hundredth or hundred-and- 
twentieth year. 

Hence the life of man continues to rise and decline 
throughout these grades of septenaries, from which it took 
the name of climacteric ; and it is a fact, as Seneca and 
others affirm, that in each of these periods of seven years, 
the human frame undergoes a change. From this it follows 
that the diseases which attend on the limits of these epochs 
are always the most dangerous. The Gentiles had great 
dread of this occurrence, and with good reason, since they 
had no hope, and death was always a source of fear to them, 
and therefore they always congratulated one another when 
these crises were past. 

It may here be opportune to draw attention to the 
remarkable correspondence which exists between the 
external world and the world of the human kingdom, 
which is man, and also to see how both are maintained 
and flourish. God, the Author and Father of all things, 
during a term of seven days, produced this grand creation 
which we behold, and supported it from one to seven 
days with the powers and influences which descended from 
on high. And into seven ages is its duration divided. 
From this is understood what is declared in the Book of 
Creation, 2 that God perfected on the seventh day all what- 

1 Lib. 83, pp. 58, t. 41. 2 Genesis ii. 


soever works He had determined to effect ; which means 
to say that, until the seventh day no created things were 
perfect, nor had they attained to their fulness ; because 
they were, so to say, on the road towards perfection, and, 
had they not reached it, they would have been, so to 
speak, abortive. The Hebrew word, which is there 
employed, meaning "fulfilled" and "finished," is of great 
depth of meaning, because it not only signifies what we 
are in process of explaining, viz. that it was perfect and 
without flaw in its work, but likewise it signifies the reins, 
wherein are held the strength and desire of procreation. So 
that it may be said and understood that all this beautiful 
mechanism of the world is like a divine childbirth, and 
a creature of God, drawn from the virtue of His omnipo- 
tence — from nothingness to the being that it has. Hence 
all creatures assume to be similar to the principle whence 
they were drawn ; these, in their turn, also producing some 
being possessing these same limitations which their Maker 
placed in them of seven ages, whether of days or years. 
From this is likewise comprehended why God did not 
wish the name to be given to the child until after the 
seventh day, as though the being was still a thing which 
was not. And Aristotle observes, 1 in his book of the 
History of Animals that many died before attaining the 
eighth day. This is the divine secret that is contained in 
numbers ; and I know not whether the philosophers them- 
selves, who so largely discoursed upon numbers, compre- 
hended the mystery. 

Aristotle derides Empedocles and Plato, his master, 
because they laid such stress on this matter ; but his 
ambitious words were not sufficient to derogate from 
either the glory or renown which they acquired from their 
close study of the divine letters, and by communicating 

1 Lib. 7, et tdt. 


with such sages as had a still greater knowledge of them, 
from which sources they derived many of the wise thoughts 
which they have given to the world. But of this I will 
speak no more at present, because the infancy and the 
puberty of our saint need our further consideration. 

It was a custom iri ancient times for the sons of the 
noblest in the land, when still youths, to serve at the 
banquets of the great and at the solemnities of the 
sacrifices, to offer the cup and to dispense the wine to the 
invited guests. And Athenseus 1 thus refers to what the 
son of King Menelaus did : " And to this day this service 
is performed at table in France by those called pages, as is 
likewise done in Castile, thus, in a certain manner preserv- 
ing the name and office of the ancient nobility. These 
were youths of tender age, and were selected, as far as it 
was possible, of equal height, and similar in age, counten- 
ance, and style. The ancients never did anything in a 
meaningless way and at haphazard. They invested all 
things with a certain mystery ; and in this service of 
making boys serve as pages of the cup in their sacrifices, 
they taught us much. Because, without doubt, the souls 
of the little ones and of youths of tender age are in truth 
like to empty chalices, since they no less thirst to drink the 
liquor of good doctrine than old men to desire wine. And 
if the old men are cheered and recreated by the juice of 
the generous vine, much more are the tender spirits of 
those fair youths delighted with the sweetness of science ; 
and by pouring out the wine to drink in the sacrifice, it 
would seem as though they demanded, in return, that the 
old men should enlighten them in the sacraments and in 
the mysteries and secrets that are enclosed in the sacrifices." 
It will be very opportune here to describe that singular 
figure by which the Egyptians depicted their god Canopus. 

1 Lib. 10, c. 7. 


The whole figure was in the form of a cup, such as we call 
imperial. The face and head were those of a boy ; the 
ears were large and uncovered ; the body draped or 
enveloped closely by a net, similarly as we moderns cover 
cups or chalices of gold, or china bowls to save them from 
being broken or injured. The figure was finished by the 
feet being placed close together, forming the stem and 
pedestal to the whole. In its hands it held a staff, the top 
of which finished with the head of a lark ; lower down the 
staff was pierced through by a stick, which thus formed 
a cross, and in its hands grasped the letter A. By this 
symbol they wished to signify the whole discourse, con- 
dition, and state of a child, and the fair hope promised of 
its future if the child was brought up as it should be. For 
this reason the figure bore the head of a boy, because 
youth is a fragile, critical period, and, unless great care is 
taken of a child, it runs a great danger, as our saint will 
tell us farther on, when he speaks of himself. This fact 
is also implied by the net with which Canopus is girt, which 
is no other than education, fear, and the proper respect 
with which a child should be bound and safeguarded. 
Moreover, great care should be taken to instil into the 
child some good liquor of instruction, for which its pure 
soul is athirst, and for right good reasons did the ancients 
give their god large open ears, which are like a mouth, 
through which these delicate cups are to be filled. And, 
whereas these ears are wide awake to receive good doctrine, 
all the other members and senses must needs be well girt 
and covered up, in order that these powers be not unbound 
so as to do anything exceeding good morals and against 
modesty, in accordance with what the apostle St. James 
teaches when he says, we should be "swift to hear and 
slow to speak." What liquor is to be poured into those 
receptacles is declared by the symbol it holds in its hands : 


the staff crowned by the head of a lark, signifying the 
course of life which is all to be employed in the divine 
praises, rising up from the earth even as the lark soars 
heavenwards, pouring its melodious strains. The whole 
of this life must be fitted and sustained upon the Thau, 
which is the cross-hilt of this staff. And the first object, 
which should be placed in the hands of the child and 
impressed on its heart, is the knowledge of the Christian 
religion, which is wholly founded on the Cross, and then 
be guided to learn contempt of the world, to bear suffering, 
and to be patient in all adversities, and to imitate Christ. 
Along these paths is progress made, and by no others, 
towards eternal life signified by the letter A. For this 
letter, bearing the form of a pyramid, ends in a point, and 
is the symbol of simplicity and the most perfect union, and 
being wide open at the base, without limits, it manifests 
that it embraces and encloses within itself all things, — the 
proper signs of eternity. Hence this spiritual receptacle 
of the youth, being filled by the fragrant liquor of doctrine 
at the commencement of life, will retain, as said the poet, 
a good odour, and persevering in purity and innocence of 
life, that soul will attain to be, not only the chalice, but 
the very temple of the Holy Ghost. 

All this and much more, did the ancients tell us 
allegorically by the figure of their god Canopus, and it was 
with good reason that St. Peter in his Epistle (2 Peter ii.) 
calls " learned " the fables of the ancients. And, in passing, 
it may be said here that neither Suidas, nor Rufinus, nor 
others, who judged that in all these ideas there was 
naught else but ridiculous rivalries between the god of the 
Chaldeans, which was fire, and the god of the Egyptians, 
which was Canopus, understood the figures signified. For 
to people who were so learned and enlightened as were 
the Egyptians and the Chaldeans, who held so close an 


intercourse with the holy patriarchs, in whom were found 
the good seed of sound doctrine, no such childish ideas 
could be ascribed. This also will be made manifest to us 
by experience when treating of the infancy and puberty 
of our saint, of whom, since his parents had brought him 
up with such care, and he himself from his tenderest years 
had practised the holiest exercises of religion, good instruc- 
tion and pure morals, great hopes were entertained of a 
grand future, as antiquity signified to us by the statue 
of the god Canopus. 

Farther on we shall see also that he became a hand- 
some youth, and how in the pedigree of the Church, as 
well as at the grand open banquet celebrated in her, he, 
who was so brimful of her holy sacraments, will serve the 
cup and liquor of the most precious wine to all the guests, 
during the first and second periods of his age. 

It therefore behoves all of us to consider with great 
attention these things. To some of us, because having lost 
that innocence with which we were invested in the new 
regeneration when having been born anew, we obtained 
the right to the heirship of the kingdom of Heaven, we 
may be able to return once again to enjoy our forfeited 
inheritance by means of penance, imitating the example 
of so great a Father, recovering lost purity and holiness. 
To others again, who are beginning anew the path of per- 
fection, in order that they may see where to place their feet, 
and that the narrow path be not obliterated by the dust 
aroused by the crowds of worldlings, with which dust our 
eyes become blinded, and we find ourselves unable to 
discover the inheritance so greatly desired by all, and 
instead of finding Jerusalem, the blessed city of peace, 
union, conformity, and light, we should instead stumble 
into Babylon, full of confusion and disorder, without peace, 
without harmony, and without light. 


On the Birthplace, Parentage, and Name of Saint Jerome. 

All holy writers teach that when writing the lives of 
saints, who perfectly despised the world, we should not 
lay any stress on the things which they held in disesteem ; 
nor proceed in accordance with the laws of the world, 
taking account of nobility of parentage and investigating 
the antiquity of the house. Because those, who within 
themselves have every cause of glory and praise, have 
small need to demand any from the outside world. 
Also, because he, who considers the state of a Christian, 
will perceive, that independently of the fact that we 
proceed from one ancient stock, where all nobilities are 
alike, and one common hearth, whence we all spring ; 
we have one only Father, who is Christ, from whom 
with so much equality we proceed on our journey towards 
an equal inheritance, out of which, through our own fault, 
we have been exiled. And, if the first and common 
father as regards the natural being is One, and One also 
the Father in the supernatural order, the line of procedure 
without variation and the goal to which we journey the 
same, it follows that all the other divisions which we 
perceive are only inventions of the world, which the 
heavens deride and the saints scorn, and which will 
perish as quickly as the foundations, on which they are 


based, are weak and faulty. Although this be of itself 
true, and of small value for the glory of the saints, and it 
be of little moment to mention such-like points, yet it is 
nevertheless imperative in histories relating to saints to 
take some notice of these things for our profit and 
spiritual advantage ; forasmuch as in the realms above, 
where the blessed enjoy God, they have a manner of 
inclination (if we may be allowed so to express it) of 
protecting their own lands, in order to succour them in 
their needs, and make cause in the Divine audience on 
their behalf, when they are just ones, and when not just 
to withdraw them. Also, because the natives of such 
lands themselves study with greater attention the lives of 
those who were born within the walls of their native place, 
and who now are so high in glory, and are thereby 
encouraged to follow their well-marked footsteps without 
feeling that the path of Christian perfection is impossible, 
since they perceive that their own neighbours have 
journeyed along it. 

For all these considerations, when seeking to in- 
vestigate the birthplace of our saint, it will not be undue 
to this Christian history, nor be ascribed to vanity, if some 
labour be undertaken to find it, nor to argue for it, as 
happened in the cities of Greece, where, at the price of 
many lives and much contention, the cities each put forth 
their respective claim in favour of being the birthplace of 
Melesigenes, who, on account of being blind, was called 
Homer; 1 and so rife did the dispute become that some 
even called him their god, erecting a temple to him, as we 
are assured by trustworthy authors was the case in the 
city of Smyrna. 

Somewhat similar, but in a more just cause, occurs in 
respect to the country of our saint and doctor, because 

1 Cicero in Orat. pro Archia. Herodotus, Plutar., Gellius, Lib. iii. 


albeit he says distinctly that his native place was 
Stridon, 1 at one time situated on the confines of 
Dalmatia and Pannonia, and which was later on assailed 
by the barbarian Goths, nevertheless, in the examina- 
tion of this point, there arise great difficulties and many 
differences of opinion. 

The reason of this was the desolation caused by Alaric 
and Radagisus, captains of the Goths, before passing on to 
Italy, and which was so great that the saintly doctor 
says in the Commentaries on Habacuc, "that they left 
alive no man whether great or small, nor even such 
animals as are necessary for the service of man." And in 
the Commentary on Sophonias, he says : " The animals 
also felt the wrath of the Lord, because when the cities 
were destroyed and the inhabitants perished, the fields 
remained devastated of animals, and the air of birds. A 
witness of this is Illyria, as also Thrace, and the land, 
where I was born, in which, but for the earth itself, and 
the brambles, air, and the buckthorn, there has remained 
nought, for all has perished." 

These territories having thus been laid waste, as our 
saint tells us, doubts then arose and opinions became rife 
as to his actual birthplace. The Italians, desirous of 
claiming for themselves such a great man, adduced a 
thousand reasons ; the natives of Dalmatia and Sclavonia, 
gave as many more, yet all these put forward such good 
foundations for their claims, that it became a very difficult 
task to give a verdict in favour of any one of them. The 
Italians say 2 and with truth, that I stria is one of the 
regions of Italy, and was originally inhabited by some of 
the soldiers which Acta^us,the King of the Island of Colchos, 
had sent in pursuit of the Argonauts. These founded the 

1 In Carthage. 
2 Blondo, De Italia Illustrata. Regione xi. 


city of Aquileia, and established themselves there. The 
province of Istria terminates on the south with the Illyrian 
Sea, which is now called the Adriatic, and the Gulf 
of Venice. On the east lies Dalmatia, on the north 
Pannonia. In Istria is found a small town called 
Esdrigna, the same as in former times was called Stridon, 
the native land of our glorious saint. They also declare 
that in this same town there exists a sepulchre, which by 
ancient tradition is said to be that of Eusebius, the father 
of St. Jerome, as was stated in an inscription found on 
the stone of the sepulchre, engraved on a slab of lead. 
This statement is confirmed by the intimate friendship 
which existed between Jerome and Chromatius, proved 
by the many letters that passed between them, as well as 
with Rufinus, since both were of Aquileia, and it is more 
than probable that, whereas they came from neighbouring 
places, a great friendship had sprung up among them. 

Of no less force are the arguments brought forward 
by the Sclavonians ; for it is a well-established fact among 
them that the letters and characters, which they use at the 
present day, are very dissimilar from those of the Latins, 
Greeks, and Hebrews, and that they were received from 
St. Jerome, and were considered as his own invention ; and 
those from the Sclavonic tongue and in the selfsame 
characters were used by him in their Divine office, which 
up to the present time they use, and which is the same as 
we all follow, and which was confirmed by Pope Eugenius 
in the Council of Florence. And even Blondus himself 
declares that it was he who was the instrument of the 
same, and that the affair had passed through his hands. 
Furthermore, as we shall see presently, he translated into 
the same language the whole of the sacred Scriptures. 
From this they argue that, had the holy doctor been an 
Italian, he would never have boasted of so uncouth a 


tongue, nor would he have given to his countrymen such 
a singular language and letters. 

Those of Italy reply that it is not uncommon for 
peoples on the frontiers to speak the language of the 
adjoining countries, and even of lands still farther removed, 
such as is the case in the Abruzzi and Calabria, where the 
Greek language has always been spoken, albeit the fact 
that it is a larger province than Istria ; similarly, those who 
dwell in the valleys of the Alps generally speak French, 
and those of Verona and Vicenza, which are large cities, 
speak the Teutonic language, although they lie far distant 
from Germany. And in the same manner, either because 
Istria was so near to Sclavonia, or because, for a certain 
period, she was subject to Sclavonian rule, her people 
came to speak the language of Sclavonia. 

In this contention, allowing that either party may be 
right in their claims, I deem that those speak and think 
with truth, who declare that it is of minor importance 
among Christians whether the saint belonged to this or 
that land, forasmuch as it be but an earthly consideration, 
rather should we wish to rise with him in a spiritual sense. 
And, without any manner of doubt, such would be a better 
title-deed to the birthplace of the saint, and be more of 
his spirit to imitate him in his life and conversation. If 
this latter test be accepted, I venture to say that St. 
Jerome should belong to Spain, since, in that country we 
see under his name so saintly a religious order existing, 
and the most illustrious houses of that order throughout 
Europe ; in which communities for over 230 years, up to 
the present (1595), his sons in Christ have, with singular 
observance, devoted themselves to following the work he 
laboured in. These religious have always the sacred texts 
on their lips, the divine praises are sung by them without 
intermission day and night ; spiritual conferences and pious 


questions divide their time. The Fathers also investigate 
and examine theological works in their original languages, 
in Hebrew and in Greek, drawing from their hidden 
depths rare fruits. A great testimony to the truth of 
what I say is the famous house of San Lorenzo el Real, a 
worthy work of Philip II., where, in what regards the 
divine office and worship, sacred writings and letters styled 
scholastic and positive, the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin 
tongues, this Order has attained such a high degree of 
excellence that I know not where greater proficiency 
exists. Yet what in this holy institution is more the aim, 
and in which the greatest solicitude is sought, is to become 
most like their spiritual Father and founder, in those 
things which he excelled, namely, true perfection of life, 
the renunciation and forgetfulness of the world, retirement, 
mortification, and poverty. Hence, he who observes and 
looks well into the rule of this manner of interior life, and 
notes the fervour and constancy practised in the observance 
of the statutes and constitutions, will perceive (albeit 
outwardly it may appear otherwise) that few of the 
religious orders surpass this one, even such as are 
discalced and follow strict observance. Therefore, whether 
Jerome be of Stridon, in Dalmatia, or he be of Istria, 
it makes very little difference, although the manner of 
imitating this holy doctor in Spain far surpasses that of 
other countries ; for, of course, this contention only 
regards his birthplace. All the Fathers agree upon the 
fact that Jerome's parents were noble and wealthy, since 
they held landed property and possessed slaves. The 
saint himself gives us this to understand, as we shall see 
farther on, for he sent his brother Paulinian to dispose 
of what little had escaped destruction at the hands of the 
barbarians. And in another part of his writings he says 
that when a child he used on holidays to run about the 


spacious dwellings of the servants, and domestics of his 
father's household. 

According to Aristotle, nobility is divided into lineage 
and virtue, and, according to Socrates, into nobility of 
body and nobility of soul ; all which good qualities were 
united in our saint. And in truth nobility of lineage is 
not a thing of small moment, nor one to be omitted in 
the lives of saints; because it is proper and in reason, 
says the same philosopher, that those born of parents in 
a higher class of society should be nobler and better than 
others of inferior rank. The name of Jerome's father, as 
the holy doctor himself tells us, was Eusebius, and it was 
appropriate that he should be so called, because, in its 
original signification, it means " Godliness," and it is only 
natural that the shoot springing from that noble tree 
should be Jerome, which in the Greek tongue signifies 
" holy law" a fit presage of what he was to be ; for, from 
godliness and religion springs the perfect knowledge of 
the divine law. It is a saying of God Himself that He 
will not enter into a wicked soul, but into a soul that is 
humble, and which fears and loves Him, and is obedient 
to His divine precepts. It is a right and prudent counsel 
for parents to give their children appropriate names, so 
that on hearing its name the child may call to mind the 
particular virtue, which distinguished the saint whose 
name it bears, in order to practise it. Thus, when parents 
call their son John or Joseph, and he hears his name, there 
should occur to his mind not only the virtue, which the 
first of these names indicate (unless he be so ignorant 
thereof that he knows not what the name implies), and 
his soul is thereby refreshed, but there ought also to arise 
in his heart the desire of the divine grace, which dis- 
tinguished him, and its increase, as is signified by the 
second name. This manner of naming children, in 

NAME 17 

harmony with distinguished persons, was greatly practised 
by the ancients, yet not with that vain respect ascribed 
to Pythagoras, who believed that in proper names there 
was a singular value or power, whether the word con- 
sisted of many or few syllables, had even or odd number 
of letters, and who supposed that in all this there were 
enclosed good or evil results, — and so Terence informs 
us that from the power of his name Hector believed 
himself bound to slay Patroclus, and he himself in turn 
was to be killed by Achilles, 1 — for, as may well be perceived, 
this is all childishness, unworthy of Pythagoras. 

The proper reason is what we have stated. Thus 
Aristotle interpreted his name to mean that he should do 
nothing but that which would tend to an honest end, and 
what would help him to attain it with due perfection. 
Socrates likewise drew from his name the interpretation 
that he should keep himself and all those, with whom he 
conversed, healthy and safe, not only from bodily ailments, 
but also from those of the soul. Pythagoras and Plutarch 
interpreted their destinies in like manner. The first was 
told that his name implied that, in order to be a good 
preceptor, it was not sufficient only to speak and to feel, 
but that he must have also the power to persuade men to 
virtue ; and the second one, that he must seek for true 
riches, which time could not corrupt. In the same way 
might we philosophise of many others, and of our own 
Jerome among them, and we shall see how in after life he 
acted up to the goodly name which was given him, when 
he was consecrated to God, in order that he should ever 
ponder on His holy and sacred law. I admit that we 
should not in all cases assign a mystery to names, but 
only when God assigns them to us, or changes them in 
order to manifest His divine will, or when parents give 

1 Pliny. 



their child a name, in order to recall some especial event, 
which may have taken place at the birth (for both these 
manners of naming do we observe in the sacred writings) ; 
but when we perceive that the life and the course of 
events correspond in all things to the surname of a 
person, we may prudently infer (as dialecticians say) that 
it was a thing arranged by God that he should be so 
named. And He Who in time, and from before all time, 
had pre-ordained the lives of the saints, what marvel that 
He should have also assigned their respective names ? 
This is evident from the long catalogue of examples we 
might make of names, not only found in the Old Testament 
— for we might be told that these were no more than 
figures — but also those of the New Testament, and even 
in more recent times when we see such names as Lawrence, 
Stephen, Vincent, Dominic, Benedict, Bernard, Ambrose, 
and hundreds of others, whose lives so admirably corre- 
sponded to their names. It is related of Domitius, the 
father of Nero, that on being congratulated upon the birth 
of the son who was born to him, not only did he not 
manifest joy at the news, but with a sad countenance 
replied : " It is not possible that from me and Agrippina 
there can be born anything but what will be pernicious to 
the republic." What a true and dire prognostic ! And 
on the contrary, how well might the parents of our 
saint rejoice, as did the parents of the Baptist, whose 
father being called Zachary, which means " remembrance 
of God" and his mother, Elizabeth, which is equal to 
" the Lord hath sworn" it might be inferred that the new- 
born child was a " messenger of the Lord," and, as it 
were, the harbinger of grace and mercy, whom God was 
minded to show to His people, as He had promised and 
sworn to do. 

The same may be predicted in regard to our saint, 

NAME 19 

that he would prove a general benefit to the world; for 
Jerome to be son of Eusebius is a true promise that from 
piety should spring forth great fruits out of the sacred 

What was the name of his mother the saint has not 
informed us ; he simply states that both his parents were 
Christians. He had an aunt, sister of his mother, who 
was called Castorina, with whom he had some differences 
it is supposed in regard to the division of the family 
inheritance, but this seems unfounded. Be the reason 
what it may, it is known with certainty that by letters he 
implored her many times to allow her anger to pass away ; 
and in the letters that remain to us of Jerome there is 
one of such good doctrine and advice that I deem it wise 
to quote it here, because in the lives of saintly doctors 
their doctrine and writings are the best means of mani- 
festing to us their souls. It runs as follows : — 

"The Apostle St. John, who wrote the Holy Gospel, 
in one of his Epistles says — That he who hateth 
his brother is a murderer, and with reason, because, as 
murder generally springs from hatred, he that hates, 
although he may not have actually struck a blow with 
intent to kill, yet at least in his heart has killed his 
fellow-being. You will say : ' To what purpose is all 
this ? ' Because, laying aside the former anger, let us 
prepare in our breasts a fit dwelling for the Lord, and, as 
David says, ' Be angry and sin not,' or as St. Paul more 
fully declares to us, ' Let not the sun go down upon your 
wrath? What then shall we do? On the last day in 
regard to ourselves what shall we answer over whose 
anger the sun has never set? Our Lord says in the 
Gospel : ' If thou bringest thy gift to the altar, and there 
thou rememberest that thy brother hath something against 
thee, leave there thy gift on the altar, and first go and be 


reconciled to him, and then coming thou shall offer thy gift? 
Alas ! unhappy that I am ! not to say thou also ! who for so 
long a time have not offered the holy sacrifice on the altar, 
or, if I did offer it, the fire of anger being still alive, the gift 
was as though it were worthless ! What do we say in 
that prayer we so often repeat : ' Lord, forgive us our 
trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us ' ? 
For the words are so far removed from what is felt in the 
soul, and the prayer so contrary to deeds ! I pray thee, 
therefore, again, as for more than a year I have besought 
thee by other letters, that the peace of the Lord, which 
He left us, we both may enjoy, for my desires and thy 
soul He Himself looks into, and, very shortly, before His 
Tribunal, either reconciliation and renewed friendship will 
have its due reward, or the unforgiving anger and severed 
peace will have its dire punishment, as to which peace, 
shouldst thou still not desire it, which may God forbid, I 
shall remain free, because this my letter, on being read to 
thee, will leave me absolved of any fault." Here we see the 
purity of intention of the saint, and his desire for that 
evangelical peace, which is so greatly commended to us. 

St. Jerome had also a sister, whose name he does not 
mention, and a brother, whose name was Paulinian, who 
was the youngest member of the family. We shall speak 
of him later on in the course of the saint's life. 

Having thus described the country, parentage, and 
relatives of St. Jerome, it now remains to ascertain, if it 
be possible, when he was born, for opinions differ as to the 
precise date of his birth, and in truth we have only 
conjecture to guide us, and with which to build a theory. 
Some say he was born in the fifteenth year of the Empire 
of Constantine the Great, 1 others say in the twenty-fifth 
year, and others again on the thirty-first, which was the 

1 Sigisbertus, Beda, Prosper, Erasmus. 


last year of his Empire. There are others, again, who 
hold that he was born during the empire of Constantius, 
the son of Constantine, who governed, according to 
Orosius, for twenty-four years. This opinion appears to 
be nearest the truth, albeit it may be contrary to the 
common belief, for it even would seem stated by the 
learned doctor himself; for when writing his Commentaries 
on Habacuc, 1 he says, when expounding the words of the 
prophet — Maledixsti sceptris ejus capiti bellatorum ejus: 
" I being at that time yet a lad, studying the principles 
of grammar, all the cities were running with the blood of 
the victims when the news suddenly arrived, in the midst 
of the heat and fury of the persecution, that Julian 
Augustus was dead." Then one of the infidels wittily 
said : "I know not how these Christians can say that 
their God is most patient and long-suffering, for I know 
not what wrath could have been more suddenly mani- 
fested, because not so much as for a short space of time 
did he stay His vengeance." From this we can argue 
that if Julian held the Empire for no more than two years, 
(a factjwhich is well known and proved), and seeing that 
our saint was so young that he was still learning the 
rudiments of grammar, and, at most, could be no more 
than fourteen or fifteen years of age, it appears certain 
that he must have been born in the tenth or twelfth year 
of the Empire of Constantius, and by no possibility in the 
time of Constantine, and about the year 345 of the birth 
of our Lord. This is the most certain date we can offer 
in a matter so obscure. He studied in the house of his 
parents some of the parts of grammar, and had a preceptor 
so severe that he called him Orbilius in allusion to the 
master of Horace the poet, using towards him the same 
epithet, calling him plagosus, because no doubt he whipped 

1 Epist, 41. 


him sorely. From this tutor, and more so from his most 
pious parents, he learned the law and the Christian faith, 
together with good and saintly customs ; for it is of great 
importance that children should learn these things from 
their earliest years, imbibing them even with their 
mother's milk, in order that both soul and body should 
grow up together well and healthy, the soul in Christian 
virtues and the body in strength of members. Together 
with Jerome another youth was brought up, whose name 
was Bonosus ; they loved one another tenderly, they were 
foster-brothers, and the same nurse would carry them 
both in her arms ; together they learned their first letters, 
and together they grew up to be young men, and together 
(as we shall declare later on) they departed to live in the 
desert, as Jerome himself, in almost the self-same words, 
makes mention when writing to Rufinus. 1 

1 Habacuc, c. iii. v. 14. 


The Parents of St. Jerome send him to Rome to pursue his 
Studies. What these Studies were, and what the Saint 

The holy youth, being well instructed in the Christian 
religion and in the first rudiments of letters, had arrived 
at an age when he began to give ample testimony of his 
genius and of his qualities ; hence his parents and his wise 
preceptor, in view of his natural abilities and quickness of 
understanding, together with the good habits and pious 
inclinations, which even from his tender age he manifested, 
decided to send him to Rome to follow higher studies, 
because, although good letters flourished in France, in 
Spain, and in Africa at that time, and many learned men 
were known to exist in those countries, nevertheless, in 
what regarded the purity of the Latin tongue, a great 
degeneration had taken place since early times. And in 
Rome, as in its fountain and source, the language was 
better preserved and far less corrupted than elsewhere, 
although not with its pristine splendour ; furthermore, as 
regarded the study of other languages as well as the 
cultivation of sound doctrine in all its purity, Rome was 
always held as the mother and well-spring of learning, and 
will continue to be so. This wise arrangement on the 
part of his parents he later on greatly praises when speaking 
of the mother of Rusticus, the monk, who, after sending 



her son for some time to pursue his studies in France, 
where learning and belles lettres flourished at that period, 
he was sent, like our Jerome, to Rome to conclude his 
education, and so that he might receive the good results 
of both schools of learning. On this point the parents of 
Jerome acted very prudently, and thus the reproach could 
not be cast against them as was done to that Roman 
artist, who painted well the surface, but not so his figures, 
since they all turned out so plain. Because, although it 
be not in the power of parents to have children beautiful 
in countenance, yet they possess in themselves a great 
power of rendering them beautiful in soul, infusing into 
them by means of counsels and examples, good and holy 
customs ; filling them, as we have said above, by means of 
right masters, with good science, and not allowing them to 
be like blank boards, whereon nothing is written, or similar 
to huge blocks. 

This condition we notice very much in regard to the 
nobles of the epoch, who considered it then quite ad- 
visable that their children should grow up in ignorance, 
believing that all can be covered up by wealth and the 
estates to be bequeathed to them ; as a philosopher said, 
it was " like a sheath of gold holding a wooden sword," 
and in the end these ignorant nobles become the laughing- 
stock of the world. Hence, for this reason did these 
prudent parents of Jerome seek to withdraw their gifted, 
youthful son from all the blandishments of the world 
when yet in his early boyhood, despite that he was the 
eldest -born and the heir, and, moreover, the best-loved 
child of the family, in order that so exalted an intellect 
should not be wasted, and they were ready even to 
deprive themselves of his company, and to send him to 
where he should find a proper and wide sphere for 
carrying out the promises of his genius, since it is nothing 


short of the highest importance to establish well the first 
principles of science, and to form the mind to what is 
noble and good, so that the taste for goodness and true 
wisdom should ever increase. 

In most of the first-born and heirs mentioned in the 
Old Testament we notice failure, and in not a few cases 
also in people of our own time. Cain was the first-born of 
Adam, and our wicked brother. To Abraham was given 
Ishmael as his first-born, and in the house of Isaac Esau 
was forestalled. To Jacob Reuben was not the best of 
brothers, and Eliab, the first-born of Jesse, was not, in 
the eyes of God, so good as the last of his children, who 
was David ; nor did the latter witness good success in his 
son Ammon, who was the first-born of his children, and 
many others in like manner. I am well aware that in all 
these instances there was hidden some especial mystery ; 
nevertheless we can well affirm that these heirs were evil 
through their own malice, and from this fact, as well as 
from the neglecting to correct them in their evil customs, 
we may well declare that the cause was due to their having 
been brought up too delicately, their parents having loved 
them unduly, allowing them to follow their course of evil 
rather than thwart and reprimand them, and, being treated 
with too much deference, they grew up in their pride, 
and by degrees, with the strength of years, their evil 
inclinations begat such lamentable results. But these 
discreet parents of the saint already foresaw that God 
had given them this son, not merely for their own benefit, 
but for the common good of the world, and to be a wide- 
spreading light in the Church, and thus they sent him at 
an early age to Rome, the common mother of the 
churches. There he learned Latin and Greek with the 
happy success we perceive in his works. In doing this 
he followed the advice of Quinctilian, because the Latin 


tongue softens the uncouthness of the Greek language. 
In these studies he had as his chief preceptors Donatus, 
the author of the Commentaries on Virgil and Terence, as 
he himself declares in his Apologia against Rufinus. " I 
believe," he says, "you must have read the Commentaries 
of Aspius upon Virgil and Sallust, and those of Volcacius 
on the Orations of Cicero, those of Victorinus upon the 
Dialogues, and those of my master Donatus on the 
Comedies of Terence and Virgil." Some say that his 
master for rhetoric was Victorinus, yet it clearly seems 
manifest that it was not so, because, albeit at times he may 
say our Victorinus, that does not mean to say that he was 
his master, but it was a common speech of his, in order to 
distinguish the Greeks from the Latins, which former he 
calls ours. It is also proved that Victorinus taught 
rhetoric in the time of Constantinus, as the doctor himself 
declares in the catalogue of illustrious men, at which time, 
as we have shown, he was either not yet born, or was 
so young that he could not yet have gone to Rome. And 
in the Additions to Eusebius, he says : " Victorinus, the 
rhetorician, and Donatus, our master, are renowned in 
Rome and held in high esteem. The former — Victorinus 
— merited to have a statue erected to his honour in the 
forum of Trajan." Naturally in this place he would have 
said " my preceptors," if both had been so, and this same 
method of speaking of them in other places is followed 
by him. 

The time spent in Rome he did not employ solely 
in the study of human letters ; rather he employed a 
great portion of it in those, to which Heaven had 
already inclined him ; that is to say, in such things as 
appertained to piety and the higher virtues. He frequently 
resorted to the churches, visiting the hallowed cemeteries, 
the sepulchres of the holy martyrs, in which that great 


city so abounded, for during this early period of his life 
his exercises were already those of a more mature age. 
This he himself tells us with his usual sweetness, when 
writing on the prophet Ezechiel he expounds the vision of 
the Temple, which the Prophet saw, which, becoming 
very difficult and pondering on its obscurity and the little 
light he had for working out its exposition with clearness, 
he makes an allusion to this effect : " Being in Rome, 
when quite a young boy, I learnt there human letters, 
and very frequently, along with other young students, 
companions of about my own age, we used, on Feast days, 
to go and visit the sepulchres of the Apostles and 
Martyrs. Oftentimes we would enter into those caves, 
descend into subterranean places, and such as enter them 
feel naught else on both sides of the wall but the bodies 
of the buried dead, and the whole is so shrouded in 
darkness that the words become verified there which were 
spoken by the prophet, ' let the living descend into hell.' 
Sometimes we saw windows, but so far away that they 
were like loopholes in the heights. Through these a dim 
light would penetrate, which somewhat lessened the 
obscurity and the shadows, and resembled more murky 
holes than windows. On passing quickly out of these 
subterranean vaults there follows another spell of dark- 
ness, and it needs caution to enter the next cave step by 
step, because one is surrounded by the darkness of night, 
reminding one of the words of Virgil — 

Souls with such horror surrounded, 
Together in silence stand terrified." , 

It is remarkable how the inclinations of boyhood reveal 
the nobleness of the soul, and in the first efforts and trials 
of earliest childhood the promise of future years become 
discovered, because beings at that age allow themselves 


to be ruled by impulse, and no considerations avail to 
deter them. 

From this pious exercise above described we may 
conjecture what was the generous emulation of this saintly 
youth — an emulation proper to young men of high and 
lofty ideals. 

When he walked along these hallowed places, enveloped 
in darkness, and touched in the sacred gloom the bodies of 
the martyrs, I can well imagine how in thought he would 
cry out: "Oh that I also were a martyr! and that my 
bones might merit the honour of being laid here in this 
goodly company, and my soul be one day dwelling with 
theirs in the same happy mansions as they do after having 
suffered martyrdom for Christ ! Oh that the ministers of 
this apostate Julian would come here now and take me a 
prisoner, because I am a Christian, and let me suffer a 
thousand torments in so just a cause ! I beseech Thee, 
O God, that there may be glorious witnesses to the 
divine truth, to the gospel and the Christian law, in order 
that, through the merits of Jesus Christ, I may be baptized 
— first in the Holy Ghost, and then in the fire of persecu- 
tion and in my blood ! " 

If this emulation in a child was able to effect so 
much in the heart of Alexander the Great, when he was 
but a boy, on witnessing the deeds done by his father 
Philip, that he burst into a flood of tears because no more 
deeds remained to him to execute, what ardour must not 
have been aroused in the breast of Jerome when he 
pondered on the example left to us by those now lifeless 
bodies, which in life had so gloriously fought for Christ, 
and had obtained such signal victories for Him? Without 
doubt his generous soul did not deceive him, nor, indeed, 
had God preserved his life for any lesser deeds than those 
which the martyrs had performed. 


Returning to our purpose, I say, that when pursuing 
these early studies he attained to a greater and higher 
knowledge of Latin and Greek than was deemed necessary 
in those times, and he therefore passed on to other studies, 
and with a marvellous subtlety penetrated science and 
attained a deeper insight than others could obtain during 
many years of study, for we see manifested in him an 
admirable love of discipline, and in each branch of learning 
he excelled as though all his efforts had been directed 
towards it alone. These truths will be plainly perceived 
by such as read with attention his writings, because these 
grand talents are manifest throughout the vast extent of 
his works. Of rhetoric I will only say of it what is stated, 
and what he himself declares, when he affirms that he 
exercised himself greatly in this science ; and this will be 
more fully explained farther on, when the proper place 
offers itself. Of dialectics, which are, as it were, the guide 
to show the road to other teachings, I wish it to be under- 
stood, in some sense, how greatly he laboured in order to 
refute what is said by some, who judge that the science of 
dialectics is not mastered unless a man speaks in terms 
and expressions that are barbaric, and which had its origin 
in the miserable ages, when literature was sadly dragged 
along the ground. I confess that this the saint did not 
know, because I do not find it in Aristotle, nor in Hippo- 
crates, Porphyrius, Alexander, and others from whom he tells 
us he studied logic. When writing to Domion, in respect 
to certain advice he gives him, of a daring little monk, who 
had reprehended certain things which the saintly doctor 
had written in a book against Jovinian, he says : " Your 
letters partake of both love and complaints — love, because 
warning me with all earnestness even of such things as 
are in me secure. You dread the complaints of such as 
are not lovers of good, and who seek occasions of sin, and 


scorn their brethren, and set scandal against the very son 
of their mother. You write to me that a certain monk, or 
rather a nobody, who wanders about in streets and squares, 
a lover of sowing novelties, a stinging talker, a murmurer 
of evil speeches, one who having a beam in his own eye 
yet wishes to draw forth the mote out of mine, who ceases 
not to preach in bands against me and of the books I wrote 
against Jovinian, is always biting with the fury of a dog : 
this dialectician of your city, a great personage in the family 
of Plautus, most certainly has never read the Categories of 
Aristotle, nor the Perihermenios, nor the Topics, nor even 
the quotations of Cicero, read only by mobs of vulgar people 
and conventicles of women ; yet he forms and composes 
syllogisms, as though what I had said were fallacies or 
sophistries of small importance, and assumes by this means 
to undo them. Oh, ignorant that I am ! Who deemed 
that these things could not be known but through the 
philosophers? and dolt that I was, who so often would 
read with greater zest that which I had to correct, and 
even blot out, than that which I had to write. In vain, 
therefore, did I undertake to translate the Commentaries 
of Alexander, and in vain was it that my master, as one that 
is learned in teaching, took me right through the Introduction 
(Isagoge) of Porphyrius on to the logic of Aristotle ; and in 
vain (leaving aside what concerns the liberal arts) did I have 
as my masters in the holy Scriptures Gregory Nazianzen 
and Didymus. Nor has the erudition of the Hebrews been 
of any advantage to me, nor the continual meditation and 
reflection which I have practised ever since I was a youth 
up to the present time on the law, on the prophets, on the 
gospels and the epistles of the apostles ; for we have come 
across a man who was perfect without a master, some 
divine spirit, — or else some fanatical imp has entered into 
the soul of the same, and of himself he has come forth 


well qualified and taught, surpassing in eloquence Cicero, 
in argument Aristotle, in prudence and solidity Plato, in 
erudition Aristarchus, in the fulness of book-lore Origen, 
and in the science of the sacred letters Didymus." 

From this is manifestly seen whether he studied in 
earnest dialectics in right style and good order, and like 
one, who was well versed in them, notices the deficiency of 
the same in Rufinus, telling him in the Apologia that he 
knew not what it was to divide, or define, and styles him 
Epicurean, because those of that sect paid but little atten- 
tion to this study. The most conclusive proof of Jerome's 
knowledge in dialectics would be to read his books with 
attention, for he who should take any pleasure in doing so 
would find in the Treatises against Vigilantius, Helvidius, 
Jovinian, and others, that the force and sinews of his 
reasoning, the facility with which he refutes his opponents, 
manifests great subtlety in this science, and it is the 
finished style with which, in so lofty a manner, he carries 
it through, that never allows an improper word to lower a 
single point of the dignity of the oration, from which the 
ignorant (who do not attain to this) 1 think that there are 
no dialectics there ; and they speak the truth when they 
refer to their own. 

It is a remark often made by men of little piety, and 
others, respecting religious and modest men, such as 
our saint, that they were very free of speech, and too 
overbearing for saints, and other things which can only 
be taken as coming from such lips as theirs, which are 
wont to speak with but little respect of the saints ; and 
this remark they found more especially in this very Epistle 
we have quoted. 1 They do not perceive, or do not wish 
to perceive, the reason the saint had for speaking as he 
did, which was the upholding of the authority of the 

1 Erasmus, in Efist. 51. 


Church, and the defending of her holy doctrines and 
dogmas against those, who, as daring as they are deficient 
in erudition, both in human letters as in the divine, 
assume to follow or invent new doctrines ; and with equal 
daring speak and write publicly as in secret against 
those, who defend the cause of the Church. Against such 
as these there is no more prudent course to take than to 
treat them as they deserve, paying no attention to them, 
and in passing undo the fallacy of their foundations, and 
thus enable the world to see their ignorance, in order that 
the masses, which are the more easily imposed upon, 
should understand the truth and be enlightened, and not 
be blindly induced to follow every new idea and invention 
of ambitious men. This our saint did, in his Apologetic 
Epistle against the said monk of the public squares and 
streets, which was a happy conjunction of terms, " Monk 
and Rover," when it ought to be " Solitary and Cloistered." 
In these refutations our great Father performs the office 
of doctor and master of the Church according to the 
injunction of St. Paul the Apostle, who said that teachers 
of divine truths should be steadfast and safe in doctrine, 
and should be able to refute such as attempt to contradict 
the teaching of holy Church, thus manifesting to the world 
their insufficiency. And he, who witnesses how St. Paul 
treats such men, and what terms are employed by St. 
Thaddeus in his Epistle concerning them, will not be 
surprised at what St. Jerome says of them. Notwith- 
standing this line followed by our saint of zeal and 
virtuous indignation, there is always visible in his 
apologies an admirable modesty, a heart truly that of a 
saint, and a deep contempt of himself; and furthermore, 
what he writes is solely done for the honour of God, and 
for the benefit of Holy Church — an aim which is clearly 
seen in this same Epistle, where he says : " Well might 


I turn to bite, did I so wish. I could also tear with sharp 
tooth him, who bites me, for I myself have also learned, 
for some time, letters, and held out my hand to be struck ; 
likewise might the proverb be applied to me, which says : 
' Beware, for you also have hay in your horn.' But after 
all that has been said, we should choose rather to be 
disciples of Him Who said, ' My shoulders I bared to be 
scourged, and I withdrew not my countenance from the 
affronts, nor my face from the spittle.' We should be 
followers of that One, Who, when He was reviled, did not 
revile, and after being buffeted, and, scourged, and 
blasphemed, and fastened to a cross, prayed for those who 
had crucified Him, saying, ' Father, forgive them, for they 
know not what they do? I also forgive the fault of this 
brother of mine, because I know that the devil with his 
cunning and his wiles has, alas ! deceived him." 

In this manner does he end his Epistle, and in a 
similar way does he conclude the one which he wrote 
against Helvidius by saying those humble and devout 
words: — "It seems to me that you, on finding yourself 
conquered by the power of truth, will doubtlessly turn 
against me, and speak in opprobrious terms of my life ; 
but bear in mind, before all things, that all your malice 
and affronts are turned into glory ; and, in truth, it is a 
great glory for me, that the same mouth, which dared to 
speak so shamelessly of the purest Mary, should itself 
speak evil of me, both thus being the victims of the same 
detracting tongue — the servant, and the mother of God." 
A similar conclusion does he arrive at when refuting 
Vigilantius and others ; for to be modest and retiring in 
presence of rude heretics would be ascribed by them, in 
their haughty minds, to proceed from fear of their own 
arguments rather than from a sense of humility, of which 
virtue they know nothing. This I mention, in passing, in 



order that, when in the course of this history these or 
similar passages are quoted as found in the writings of the 
saint, and when authors are perused who have written on 
this point, there may be manifested the sanctity of the one 
and the malice of the others." 

As regards that branch of moral philosophy which 
treats of the virtues (1 do not mean solely of ethics), such 
as the philosophers attained to, but that science of ethics 
which is imparted by the sacred letters, both ancient and 
modern, whereby is taught the eradication of the vices and 
manner of planting the virtues, whosoever would wish to see 
it in its height without any part being left untouched, and 
most skilfully shown, let him diligently peruse his Epistles, 
and he will be amply satisfied. For with what a masterly 
hand is not the work achieved ! What force does he not 
manifest in persuading and in dissuading at will ! And 
with what delight does he not ravish the reader to the 
love of the virtues and to the hatred of the vices ! Does 
he not elucidate both economy and politics from their very 
foundation ? I believe that there is not a state or condition 
of mankind in the world which will not be found therein 
clearly defined in its entirety, and with all the circumstances 
pertaining to it. 

Some, who have perceived the great advantage of this, 
have attempted to give his Epistles, or the greater portion 
of them, in the vernacular, in order that all men should be 
able to attain to so much doctrine ; and with what happy 
result this bold stroke has succeeded let others judge. 
In order to translate St. Jerome I deem it necessary to 
possess his erudition and his spirit. That branch of 
learning which is called physics, or natural philosophy, 
he studied with great zeal, and his works clearly 
demonstrate this to have been the case, for he read 
Arjstotle with great attention in those parts, where he 


was obscure. Similarly was he familiar with Theophrastus 
and Pliny, whom he generally speaks of as historians of 
Nature. When, in the course of time and in the fulness 
of age, he perceived how vain and of what small import- 
ance were the books of the Gentiles, for, being full of 
opinions and containing little science, their writings clearly 
manifested their ambitions and the obscurity of their 
doctrine, he forthwith withdrew from them. For it seemed 
to him, as was the case, 1 that there was more philosophy 
in a few lines of Moses, Job, Solomon, and Isaias than 
in all the philosophers together, as he himself declares in 
the proem to his Commentaries on the last-named prophet. 2 
And writing on Nahum, he compares those, who devote 
themselves solely to the philosophy of the Gentiles, to 
bruchus and locusts, who have wings, but which never 
enable them to rise higher than the brambles and hedges, 
nor can their flight be long continued without coming 
down to the ground. Such are those, who solely confer 
with Chrysippus and Aristotle, whose works, owing to their 
intricacies and crudeness, are comparable to the buckthorn 
and bramble, which keep them well entangled. 

In other parts of his writings he says 8 that these 
philosophers are useful for awakening a desire to find the 
truth, but are not able to satisfy that desire ; or, again, 
they may be compared to the woman who was troubled 
with the issue of blood, who had spent her means in 
paying physicians who never cured her, because they did 
not understand the cause of the ailment, and who was 
never healed until she touched the hem of Christ's gar- 
ment. So also is it with those who seek to appease 
their desires by perusing Plato and Aristotle, from which 
is proved how cleverly he, with his genius, had encom- 
passed them. And would to God that with such sane 

1 Proem in Isai. 2 Capit. 3 in Nahum. 3 Psalm cvi. torn. 7. 


counsels those would be disillusioned, who think they have 
acquired truth after having spent much time and wasted oil, 
yet do not perceive their waste. 

What is included in the science of topography, or the 
description of places, and in its train geometry, which is 
necessary to it, our doctor attained to fathom in an 
excellent manner, as is proved by the description he 
gives of the various places mentioned in the Scriptures, 
and in a more especial manner those of the Holy Land. 
Because, although he saw them and walked in them, never- 
theless as we shall see farther on, had he not had an 
entire knowledge of the way to describe them, it would 
not have sufficed ; as is the case with many, who go on 
pilgrimages, and who pass through provinces and king- 
doms and strange lands, yet are unable to afford a truer 
description than those who saw them not ; and these 
studies are not acquired at the moment when they are 
required, but have to be learned a long time in anticipa- 
tion. He who should read his Commentaries on Ezechiel 
will find in the last part how learned St. Jerome was in 
geometry from the information he affords when he alludes 
to and agrees with what Josephus says, that the 
explorers and spies sent by Joshua to the promised land 
of God were geometricians, because otherwise they would 
have been unable to bring back such information as was 

The knowledge he possessed of chronology and history, 
sciences so necessary when treating on theology and con- 
troversial arguments, was also extensive, as is frequently 
manifested in the course of his writings, more especially 
in the last part of his Commentaries on Daniel, in which 
he expounds all those things which so many ages 
previously had been foretold by the Prophets, and which 
he demonstrates to have been fulfilled to the letter. This 


is declared by the historians, not only the Greek ones, 
such as Suetonius, Callimachus, Diodorus, Polybius, Posi- 
donius, Claudius Andronicus, and Josephus, but even by 
the Latins, such as Titus Livy, Tacitus, Justinian, and 
others. And the large knowledge he had of history can 
be well seen from the continual allusions he makes of it 
at every step. All these did Jerome study in Rome, and 
more especially in order to know how to adorn and 
embellish theology with all the elegance of both the Latin 
and Greek languages. 

It was a happy inspiration from Heaven that he should 
thus earnestly pursue these studies at this period of his 
life, because up to his time amongst the doctors of the 
Latin Church theology was, so to speak, but in its infancy ; 
and although many understood that science well, yet com- 
paratively few could speak about it, or adorn it with the 
raiment it demanded in reason. For which cause sacred 
things were subjects of indifference to many, since they 
found them so bereft of ornament, and thus they read profane 
books with greater interest than they did religious ones. 
Moreover, the learned among the Gentiles (for even at 
that period there were many) called Christians "Infants" 
scorning them as ignorant persons, who knew not even 
how to speak. Hence, by the pursuit of these studies 
and the great erudition of our Jerome these wants were 
in a great measure remedied, inasmuch as the divine 
letters were treated of and expounded by him in such 
lofty language and clear style that many of the greatest 
geniuses of the Gentiles delighted to read what was 
written by St. Jerome so that it might be truly said, that 
the whole of Gentile wisdom placed on one side, opposed to 
a Jerome of the Christians was able to stand alone on the 
other side, nor could any be found to surpass him in erudition 
and in elegance of style. His companions in these studies 


were Pammachius, a Roman of high rank, who married 
Paulina, daughter of St. Paula, and after her death became 
a monk. This Pammachius lived so saintly a life in 
the monastic state, and was so esteemed by the Roman 
people for his virtue that he would have been elected 
Pope ; 1 but, as the saintly doctor himself says, " It was a 
higher honour to merit the dignity than to possess it." 
His other companion was Bonosus, of whom we have said 
in part of our narrative that he had been brought up with 
him. He also, like Pammachius, was of noble parentage, 
and, as we shall see farther on in this history, he too 
became a holy monk. The third companion was Helio- 
dorus, who, on account of his exalted sanctity and virtue, 
attained to be a bishop, as the same Father declares in the 
Introduction he wrote upon Abdias, in which, regretting 
that certain commentaries, full of allegories, which he had 
written in his youth upon the Prophet, should have been 
published, and had been distributed among the people, he 
says as follows : " This was done, my Pammachius, more 
beloved to me than the light, at the time when, having 
just quitted the schools of the rhetoricians, we gave our- 
selves up to the study of divers sciences ; and when I and 
Heliodorus, our beloved, were projecting to withdraw from 
the world, and to live together in solitude and prayer in 
the desert of Chalcidia in Syria." From which words we 
have a clear proof of what we have stated in this discourse 
respecting the studies and mode of discipline that our 
glorious saint undertook at this period of his life. 

1 Epist. 52. 


The Baptism of St. Jerome in Rome. The Reason why 
Baptism was deferred 

We have seen the manner in which St. Jerome employed 
his time in Rome during the period of infancy and puberty 
— his extensive studies, the great progress he made in 
them ; his holy inclinations and pious customs. As a con- 
sequence of these good qualities God inspired his heart 
with the desire to receive baptism, and no longer to delay 
doing so, for He wished to raise him up to higher things, 
and to employ him for the good of His Church. Touched 
by this holy thought, he was not slow in carrying out this 
desire, nor did he turn a deaf ear to the voice of God, but 
rather, raising his eyes to heaven full of tears of joy and 
gratitude, in humility of soul and with uplifted hands he 
gave thanks to the Father of Lights, from whom pro- 
ceeded that sovereign gift. He felt so full of fervour with 
this desire that he at once resolved upon sending in his 
name to be placed among the number of catechumens, who 
were candidates for baptism. In those days this was the 
first ceremony. After giving in their names they were 
no longer styled "catechumens," but " competents" and 
" elected," because they were then separated from the 
others to be instructed and prepared for baptism, in contra- 
distinction to the other catechumens, who were only called 
" audientes," " listeners," like those who wished to become 



Christians, and attended the sermons and discourses on 
the Christian life and religion, but had not yet demanded 
baptism. Thus does our saint style them himself in the 
Epistle he wrote to his friend Pammachius, 1 where he com- 
plains of John of Jerusalem, because the candidates or 
" competents" whom he (Jerome) had himself presented to 
him* to be baptized had not been permitted to receive 
baptism on the holy day of Easter. St. Augustine, in 
like manner, applies to them 2 this name, as a name well 
accepted, in his book De Cura pro Mortuis and in other 
parts of his writings ; and St. Leo Pope, 3 in his fourth 
Epistle and elsewhere, also designates the aspirants to 
baptism by this name, although he more commonly calls 
them "elect." 

This was, as it were, in imitation of the earthly 
Militia called delecti who submitted their names to be 
registered, which was done by taking the oath of fealty to 
obey the Emperor, and which was the military pledge. 
To this similarly does St. Paul allude when he calls the 
faithful by the name of " soldiers," and arms them with 
sword, breastplates, shields, helmets, and the rest of 
military accoutrements. 

Having, therefore, given in his name as a candidate for 
baptism our Jerome passed on to his examinations. There 
were seven examinations held to test candidates in their 
firmness of belief in the faith and renunciation of the 
devil, the world, and its vanities. All the saints from St. 
Dionysius the Areopagite to St. Clement Pope mention this 
holy and necessary ceremony of the examinations as being 
of apostolic tradition, and as having been taught by Jesus 
Christ Himself Who said that unless a man renounces all 
that he possesses he cannot become His disciple ; for no 

1 Epist. 61. 2 August, cap. 12, lib. De Cura pro Mortuis. 

3 Leo Papa, Epist. 4, 5, 6. 


man can serve two masters which are so contrary to one 
another — God and the World, — albeit that lay Christians 
of our time pretend that it can be done, despite that 
Christ Himself says it cannot be done. Frequently does 
our Father mention this ceremony, and in a more especial 
manner does he speak concerning it when commenting on 
the last words of the sixth chapter of Amos where he says : 
" Unless evil works die within us, Christ will not rise in us 
either, for only when we are dead to sin shall we possess 
Him for our guide. For this reason in the ' mysteries ' 
(for thus did they style the sacrament of baptism) we first 
renounce Him who hath power over the West, and with 
him put to death sin in us, and, turning to the East, we 
enter into our engagement, taking the oath to abide by 
the Sun of Justice, promising to serve Him." 

From these words is pointed out to us another ceremony 
which was then in use, namely the custom which the newly 
baptized observed of turning their backs to the West to 
pray, so that their faces should thus be looking to the 
East, in order to give us to understand that in every 
sense of the word the back must be turned on sin, which 
custom, however, is not now in use ; nor that one which 
he mentions when commenting on Isaias, and in other 
places, which was that of giving to newly-baptized persons 
milk and honey to eat in sign that they were new creatures 
in Christ. And whereas some of these ceremonies not 
being universal nor of apostolic tradition, as were others, 
but only observed in some few special churches, they fell 
into disuse, similarly as that most renowned ceremony, 
of which some memory still remains, which was of 
vesting the newly baptized in white garments from 
Holy Saturday, when the baptism had taken place, 
until Low Sunday. This practice the saint mentions 
several times, more especially in two of his letters written 


from the desert of Chalcidia to Pope Damasus, wherein he 
informs him very touchingly that he had clothed himself 
in the robe of Christ in Rome, and that it was but in 
reason that from Rome should be sent him the food of the 
spirit, since it was there that he had received the new life 
of the soul ; by these words alluding, like a good philo- 
sopher, to the natural principle which teaches that from 
the causes whence a thing springs of the same does it 
maintain itself. This is in truth no small title-deed for 
Rome to claim this saint as her own, since the Christian's 
native land is rather where he is born again of the new 
Adam which is Christ, than of the country of the old 
Adam, where he was born of his natural parents. So 
vividly did all these holy ceremonies remain impressed in 
his thoughts, and so fittingly did these white garments 
become his body and soul, in which he was clothed on his 
great birthday, that sooner than soil them or spot their 
whiteness, as is said of the ermine, he would have allowed 
himself to be subjected to untold torments. 

In those early times of the Church it was customary to 
delay baptism for some time, and not unfrequently until a 
person had attained to manhood he did not receive baptism. 
This was done, not because among Christians and those 
well instructed in the evangelical doctrines there existed 
an objection to children being eligible for baptism at any 
time after birth, because on this point there was never a 
doubt, as the same doctor himself teaches 1 in the third 
book against the Pelagians, and all the other saints and 
many councils 2 declare as being of apostolic tradition which 
has been handed down frdm the beginning, 8 and of no less 
authority than if it had been written. Nevertheless, 
notwithstanding that many -parents who were faithful, and 

1 Lib. 3, Contra Pelag. c. 6. 2 Triden. ses. 6, can. 12. 

3 Milen. can. 2. Gerund, can. 5. 


even saintly persons, yet they did not baptize their children, 
nor did they themselves, after arriving at an age when 
they knew well what they were about, demand baptism, 
rather they deferred it for a long time, for what reason it 
is not easy to account. Without doubt they were moved 
by various aims, because good and saintly men and such 
as had most pious parents, like St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. 
Ambrose, Basil, Augustin, and others of whom we have 
grave and positive histories, did defer baptism, and put it 
off until they were of full age, and received it only after 
being many years catechumens, with this consideration, 
viz., that it was necessary for so high and great a sacra- 
ment to possess an exalted and lofty state of virtue, and to 
be well advanced and practised in all the virtues demanded 
by Christian perfection. " Because," as St. Chrysostom x 
says, " if it be necessary in order to dye cloth an imperial 
purple to steep the wool in various tints first, and then in 
the purple dye so that the cloth should acquire the perfect 
hue of colour desired, so also is it necessary for the 
perfection and the attainment of the exalted height of the 
Christian life, which exceeds in sanctity and purity all 
other states in the world, not to trust the soul ere it has 
been exercised, and, as it were, been dyed first as 
wool by the practice of the moral virtues which form the 
firm foundation of a state, which can be raised to so lofty a 
height." St. Augustine to the same purpose is fired with 
wrath, and with his divine genius puts forth many argu- 
ments against such as with little or no preparation, or 
provision of virtues, nor sorrow for their past sins and life, 
should dare to receive baptism, and censures bishops and 
parish priests, who admitted to so divine a mystery men of ill- 
regulated lives, merely on their word that they were members 
of the faithful, and that they believed in Jesus Christ. 

1 Homil. I in Acta. 


From these extracts will be gathered that the reason 
the saints had for deferring baptism was on account of 
the reverence in which they held this high state, and 
the great respect and fear they judged necessary for 
entering into so holy and saintly a life. These considera- 
tions undoubtedly influenced the Christian parents of our 
doctor in delaying the baptism of their son, and likewise 
urged them to send him at so early an age to Rome, in 
order that he should be there well instructed in the faith, 
and adorned by saintly habits, be made competent to 
practise much discipline, and rendered fit to receive the 
various tints so firmly, that he should attain to being 
steeped in the perfection of the Christian purple. Others, 
however, let us say here, did not act with such good 
motives, but delayed receiving baptism until they were 
far advanced in life, or indeed until they were at the very 
gates of death, similarly to the neglectful Christians of 
these times, who wait to do penance when they should 
be making their wills, and by the judgment of God do 
neither the one nor the other ; nor can any one be found 
to convince them that they are dying, or persuade them 
to confess. Thus it came to pass in those days that 
many died without baptism, as occurred to the Emperor 
Valentinian, the Younger, of whom St. Ambrose affirms, 
that he did not lose the grace he hoped for in baptism, on 
account of the true penance and good dispositions, which 
supplied with the spirit the want of water for receiving the 
sacrament he desired. In many other cases, without doubt, 
this did not end with such happy results in punishment of 
their neglect ; and in endeavouring to remedy this, many 
fell into a greater error, which was, that the dead were 
baptized in the person of their friends, or they left a 
recommendation to them, founding this act on a false inter- 
pretation given to those words of St. Paul, where, writing 


to the Corinthians, 1 he says : ' Otherwise what shall they do, 

that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not again ? 

Why, then, are they baptized for them ? ' And St. 

Epiphanius, 2 writing against Cerinthus, says " that this 

was the practice in Asia and in Galatia." St. Chrysostom, 

when expounding this passage of the Apostle, recounts 

concerning this practice which he with good reason calls 

worthy of scorn and derision, that, among the other errors 

and abuses which sprang up from the heresy and sect of 

the Marcionites, was the following one : " When a person 

died unbaptized a living man would lie under the bed of 

the dead man, and when the corpse was approached and 

asked whether he desired baptism, he, being dead and 

therefore unable to reply, the man concealed beneath the 

bed would reply for him, and the dead man was then 

baptized, and that this is what St. Paul alludes to when he 

says, ' What shall they do, that are baptized for the dead ? ' 

" To such a degree," says the saint, " does the craft of 

the devil work on the souls of the ignorant." To St. 

Epiphanius it appears a fair exposition of this passage 

that, when a man is near his end, and at the point of death, 

if he had been already instructed in the faith, he can be 

baptized, and that this may mean the words being baptized 

for the dead. It is, however, the opinion of others, that 

St. Paul here speaks of those, who do penance for the souls 

of the departed, and that he speaks of baptism as though 

it were the same as a work of satisfaction ; but I cannot 

see how this agrees with the intention and words of the 

Apostle. And, whereas it be not outside the purpose of 

history, I will state what others again say, who in my 

opinion judge in respect to this text what is just in regard 

to the dignity of so great a master. Here he propounds a 

grave argument to prove the resurrection of the dead 

1 I Cor. xv. 29. 2 Epipn. hercs. 28. Homilia 40. 


gathered from the secret mystery of the baptism of Jesus 
Christ, where the dipping beneath the water and bringing 
forth of the baptized signified death, life, resurrection, and 
burial. In the blissful first ages of the Church it 
happened that some of the faithful, previous to being 
baptized, visibly received the Holy Ghost, as was 
witnessed with Cornelius and all those of his household, 
for, ere St. Peter had concluded his discourse, the Holy 
Spirit had descended on them and had given them the 
gift of tongues. 

By this was clearly seen that they had died to sin and 
had risen, as regards the souls of all those, who had thus 
received the Spirit, and that these had been dead, 
despoiled of that life, wherein they had first lived to sin, 
and were now risen to a new life in Christ. Hence 
St. Paul asks : ' Tell me, these that were dead to sin, why 
were they afterwards baptized? What death or what life 
do they possess in that baptism ? ' For seeing they be 
men so holy and so enlightened by the Holy Ghost they 
perform naught without reason and without mystery, it is 
evident that they confess and profess not only that they 
died with Christ, and that they have risen with Him, as 
regards the soul, but that they also await another death, 
and another resurrection of the body, which they profess 
by receiving baptism, entering into and coming forth out 
of the water. Hence two lives and two deaths are there 
prefigured, and in the cause also the effects are contained : 
as regards him who has already died and lived in the one, it 
becomes necessary that he profess the other, and were there 
no resurrection of the dead and of the body, there would be 
nothing left for them to profess. This is what is taught 
us by the Church in her creed, when she bids us say: " I 
confess one baptism for the remission of sins, and I expect 
the resurrection of the dead." This is the explanation. 


But let us return again to the case of those who 
delayed receiving baptism through carelessness or 
negligence. I say that of this number some were led 
by a wrong interpretation of other words of the same 
Apostle 1 when in his Epistle to the Hebrews he says as 
follows : 'It is impossible for those, who were once illuminated, 
have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers 
of the Holy Ghost, have, moreover, tasted the good word of 
God and the powers of the world to come, and are fallen 
away, to be renewed again to penance, crucifying again 
to themselves the Son of God, and making Him a mockery? 
They understood this passage as though the Apostle had 
said that he who, after being baptized, should sin mortally, 
had no means of returning to the grace of God, nor of 
doing penance ; and hence they did not wish to be 
baptized until the point of death. With this false inter- 
pretation did a priest of Rome called " Novatus " deceive 
many. This ignorant innovator and explainer of holy 
Scripture, not knowing that the same St. Paul, who had 
said the above, had, nevertheless, received to penance the 
incestuous man of the city of Corinth ; and that in the 
case of the Galatians, who had been seduced and led away 
by the teaching of a false gospel, he caused them to be 
spiritually born again by reason of the penance they 
performed, as is very clearly described, and the error 
refuted by the great Athanasius in an Epistle he addressed 
to Serapion. What the Apostle meant to say in this place 
he himself declares subsequently in cap. xi. of the same 
letter where he says : " By wilfully sinning after we have 
received the clear tidings of the truth, there no longer 
remains to us a sacrifice for sin. There only awaits us a 
terrible judgment and sentence of fire, which will burn and 
consume the adversaries." Because, if any one broke the 

1 Heb. vi. 


Law of Moses, and it was proved by two or three 
witnesses, he irrevocably died ; how much greater punish- 
ment would he deserve who should despise the Son of 
God, not esteeming His blood any more than that of a 
base animal, by whose blood he had been sanctified, or he 
should offer so great an affront to the Spirit of grace 
which he had received ? And these first words, " wilfully 
sinning," have great emphasis and mystery. 

The same does St. John say in his first epistle, 1 and 
St. Peter in his second one, 2 and these are the two places 
of which the same prince of the apostles declares that they 
have been debased by the ignorant, who, to their own 
perdition, comprehend or interpret them in a false sense ; 
not only this, but even the rest of the holy Scriptures, as 
was the case with the miserable Novatus, who denied the 
remedy of the sacrament of penance to the faithful. And 
forasmuch as I do not exercise here the office of exponent, 
but that of an historian, I will not digress any longer to 
offer further information on these texts, but simply limit 
myself to giving the causes why the Gentiles of those days 
delayed baptism. Others there were who, although they 
did not carry things so far, nor were blinded by this error, 
yet put off their baptism from a cowardly idea, lest they 
should offend our Lord after receiving it more grievously ; 
holding the sins committed previous to baptism in lesser 
account than those committed after receiving the sacrament. 
Forasmuch as after baptism they called themselves not only 
sinners from henceforth, but " transgressors," as St. Paul 
calls sinners 3 who after receiving the law break it, on 
account of the gravity which that state demands by reason 
of the ingratitude shown for the benefit received, for the 
faith and oath taken which has been broken ; and therefore 
they judged that by delaying in this way to be baptized 

1 St. John i. 3. 2 St. Peter ii. 2. 3 Rom. 


to avoid all these things, live with greater liberty and less 
scruples, less notice being taken by others of their lives, 
and moreover, they chose for themselves when and 
where they should be baptized. Against such base 
thoughts as these, such abuses of grace, and mean corre- 
spondence with God, very skilfully does St. Gregory 
Nazianzen in an eloquent oration dispute to the purpose, 
saying as follows : " You may tell me you do not receive 
baptism because you fear your bad inclinations, and the 
evil propensities with which our nature leans to what is 
evil and pursues vice. A fine excuse covered by cowardice ! 
But listen to a brief solution. Tell me, oh you, who are 
so afraid of sin, which of the two do you judge lives the 
holier and more blameless a life — he who does not sin or 
he who lives in sin? If you reply — and as is true — that 
it is he who does not sin, then why do you fear to receive 
baptism, if even before baptism you keep so diligently 
what the divine law ordains ? And if, perchance, your life 
be not pure and innocent, you do not guard against what 
may defile you ; if you continue a long time in your evil 
course, and have grown hardened in sinful customs, it is 
clearly manifest that you await the last hour of life to 
receive baptism and in that moment depart this life ! This 
is a pestilential fraud, not of property, nor of gold, but of 
sin, seeking to reap a profit by the same fraud, by which 
you pretend to sanctify and purify the soul." And at the 
end of the discourse he adds : "He who receives the 
purifying cleansing bath of this regeneration is like to a 
new soldier who has as yet performed no brave deed, but 
who sits down beneath the standard having been in no 
encounter, nor broken into any skirmish, nor having even 
confronted the enemy. Neither by merely clothing him- 
self in the uniform of a soldier, and being clad in coat of 
mail and armed with a sword, will he be held valiant and 


brave, nor could he have the right to approach to speak 
with the captain, as though he were an experienced soldier, 
who had been already proved, nor would he dare to ask 
favour or concessions like those who have gone through 
regular engagements. In the same way you who are 
but recently baptized, how can you think that you will 
enter with the saints into a participation of the crowns 
and the recompense of their victories until you should 
have by the faith you profess first fought and braved all 
manner of affronts and dangers, having resisted with brave 
heart and courageous will the encounters of the flesh and 
the combats of the devil ? " 

The divine Chrysostom, treating this same subject with 
the eloquence of his golden mouth, among other reasons 
he advances, says as follows : " You fear to approach 
baptism ! Did you in truth fear this holy sacrament you 
would receive it and lovingly cherish it. Yet for that 
reason you will at once add, ' I do not receive it because 
I do not fear it.' But tell me do you not fear to die in 
this state.' ' God is most merciful,' you will say, ' and 
would not permit such a thing.' Very well, then, go and 
receive baptism if you find that God is so humane and 
merciful. What a strange being you must be ! That 
which you should hasten to attend to, viz., to receive 
baptism, you put off, casting in oblivion the mercy of God, 
and you only bear in mind the dread it causes you ; yet, 
when desirous of delaying baptism you resort to this 
mercy ! You follow a reverse way in everything ; be- 
cause he that is not baptized knows not how great is the 
mercy of God ; whilst he that by receiving baptism places 
himself in His hands, and for love of Him has renounced all 
things, although he may again fall into sin, nevertheless, 
provided he truly repents, at once experiences in himself 
the divine mercy. Whosoever desires to go further into 


the matter and find the reasons urged and added here by 
the said saint, may read what he says, because for my 
purpose I have merely sought to discover the various 
motives why in those times baptism was deferred by 
various classes ; because in this present happy age of the 
Church, when all truths have been so deeply investigated, 
and those first usages put away, I deem them of small 
need. The most wholesome and safe course has been 
now well established, which is, that children should be 
baptized without awaiting a more mature age, both for the 
reason put forward by St. Dionysius Areopagite, at the 
end of his Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, wherein he teaches 
that children from their tenderest age should be invested 
with the sacraments, in order that from their earliest years 
Christ should converse with them. In this way afford no 
opportunity for any other life to be imprinted on them but 
the divine life, and ever contemplate it ; as well as because 
without doubt the devil then is possessed of lesser powers, 
and does not take possession of their bodies and souls, as 
he does in such as have not that divine life. Because, as 
by original sin they are his captives, he deals with them 
with greater liberty ; as has been explained by the angelic 
doctor, 1 and as by experience we are taught what illusions 
and mockings evil spirits will work where they find small 
frequentation of the sacraments, and how far exiled they 
are from the places where the sacraments are dispensed and 

Hence, our saint came forth, a youth out of the 
baptismal font, newly born in Christ, divested of the skin 
of the ancient serpent, and, as he himself says, vested with 
Christ and Christ vested in him, made a living member 
of Him, no longer of earthly nature but of the celestial 
one, regenerated by water and the Holy Ghost. If 

1 St. Thom. 4. d. q. 5, art. I. 


any one wishes to read, in a brief manner, the glories of 
baptism in choice language let him peruse the Epistle 
which the great Father * wrote to his friend Oceanus, and 
his desire will be fulfilled. 

1 Ad Oceanum, cap. 3. 


On the Purity and the Virginity which St. Jerome preserved 

during his Life 

Many as have been the men of learning and of renown 
who up to the present time have treated or written con- 
cerning this glorious Father, as well as popular tradition 
and the accepted opinion of pious persons, all have 
affirmed that St. Jerome was a true virgin, because by all 
authorities has his life been held to have been so strict 
and so modest of habit that they do not hesitate to declare 
that he guarded perfect purity and that the white stole 
and the spotless robe wherein he was vested when he 
entered the militia of Christ were never stained. 

When the High Priest entered to offer sacrifice before 
the Lord in the city of Israel, among other ornaments and 
apparel with which he was vested was that of a tunic of 
whitest linen, woven in such a way that there were distri- 
buted many small eyes in the manner of table linen, which 
at the present day we call damask or embroidery. God 
wished by this apparel to demonstrate that he who should 
be called to the priesthood and be master of his people 
(since this was the principal office — that of declaring the 
law, as He says by the mouth of a prophet) must lead a 
life of great innocence and purity, and that in order to 
guard this virtue he must not sleep, but must remain with 
his eyes wide open, and these to be a thousand. If God 



sets such account of the integrity of the symbol, what 
shall we say of the reality of the thing signified ? And, 
when God created Jerome to be so great a doctor and 
priest of His Church, who will dare to say He did not 
vest him with this Ephod (for so this tunic is called in the 
original language) ? And the retirement and the fears 
which are seen throughout the life of this Father, when 
he fears even the very smallest thoughts and can find 
no assurance, who does not perceive that these are the 
eyelets of this pure white garment ? Nevertheless, albeit 
that this is the case, the persecutors of virtue will not 
allow the bones of the saints to rest in peace. There are 
authors who, founding their opinion, although deceitfully 
and evilly, state that our saint lost his virginal purity, on 
the words which I shall quote in truth and to the letter. 
In the first of all his Epistles, writing to Heliodorus, he 
says as follows : " Consider, my brother, that it is not 
lawful to hold or possess anything of your property." He 
who does not renounce (says the Lord) all that he possesseth, 
cannot be my disciple. " Tell me, why are you a Christian 
with so timid a heart ? Consider how Peter leaves his 
net ; consider how Matthew rises up from his table at 
the exchange and becomes an apostle; the Son of Man 
has nowhere to rest His head, yet you are tracing out 
and measuring wide gates and luxurious apartments. If 
you place your hopes on the things of the world you will 
fail to be heir with Christ. Explain the name of monk, for 
by this are you called. What will you do amid the multi- 
tude and the bustle bearing the name of solitary ? I do 
not give you this advice as one who has not tested the 
dangers of the waves, or one who escaped with the ship 
or the merchandise safely to the shore ; but as a skilled 
mariner, who, having now come out of the shipwreck on 
to the sands, with fearful voice, warns those who newly 


attempt the sea. There, indeed, is sucked in and drawn 
to the fire of the luxurious Charybdis the salvation of the 
soul ; here the deceitful Scylla, with the face of a young 
damsel, flattering with false laughter, in order to wreck 
chastity. Here is the sea -shore of a barbarian people 
bereft of reason ; here the Corsair devil with his allies 
binds with strong chains those whom he captures. Do 
not act lightly : do not be trustful ; do not judge yourself 
secure, although the sea should appear to be calm and 
invite you, and the wind scarcely moves the hair of your 
head. Be it known to you that in this plain there are 
high mountains, and within is a great peril concealed ; 
within is the enemy in ambush ; tighten the cords, spread 
out the sails, place the mark of the Cross on your fore- 
heads ; this is a tempest rather than a calm." This is 
the first quotation, and one of the testimonies which may 
be brought against the saint in order to affirm that in his 
youth he had lost his virginal purity ! Here we have the 
picture of a routed individual, his merchandise lost, the 
apparel cast to the sea thrown up by the waves, engulfed 
by Scylla, swallowed up by Charybdis, flung on the sands, 
and as much else as may be desired. Had he not dis- 
covered to us in the Epistle which follows directly after 
this one, which is addressed to Nepotian, what the 
eloquent orator means, we ourselves should remain fearing 
this tempest ; but in the first instance he there confesses 
in this Epistle that he wished to test his genius and play 
with many metaphorical and rhetorical colours. And 
even should he not have made this statement, any one — 
unless he were very blind or very malicious — Would at 
once perceive this, because in this is easily revealed his 
soul and intent. Here he acts the part of one, who is 
experienced and the master ; his aim is to persuade his 
friend to love the life of solitude. He places before him 


the dangers of the world, and beneath the metaphor with 
its most elegant allegory he describes the variety of sins, 
warning him of the common danger — waves, winds, quick- 
sands, shoals, false and fair winds, deceitful prosperities, 
vain favours, despair, sadness, persecutions ; on the other 
part Scylla, Charybdis, pirates, bad ports, encounters, 
captivities, prisons, vices of the flesh, sensuality, pride, 
evil intentions, wretched aims, the sad effects of all these 
miseries ! Let us, then, say with these grave censors that 
of all this is Jerome full ; so many evils were admitted 
in so good a soul, because he does not bewail one thing 
more than the other. 

The skilful mariner — as he here depicts him to us, who 
from such grave dangers was able safely to land on 
the shore — was not swallowed up by Charybdis, nor was 
he deceived by Scylla ; he was not captured by pirates, nor 
did he sink in the shoals. He fought with all ; he was 
attacked ; he was beseiged, persecuted ; but his dexterity, 
his spirit, and bravery carried him through, despite the ill- 
treatment he was subjected to, and brought him alive to land, 
for so is it necessary that those should be tried, who have 
to be masters of all. And let this passage serve us to 
understand in all we may say farther on on this subject, 
because without blemish he endured in patience all these 
trials ; he was in the extreme the warrior saint. God 
permitting him to be tried — tried in all things — because 
he that has to be so masterly a general must need be 
experienced ; and, as the Apostle 1 says of our only High 
Priest and Preceptor, tempted " like to us in all things, but 
without sin." Not in such a high degree certainly, but 
according to his measure, in His way, as far as can be in 
a fragile vase which contains so precious a treasure ; and 
the fact of having no evidence of the victory renders us 

1 Hebrews vi. 


uncertain of what passes in secret, God concealing His 
favours for a greater good, as we shall see farther on, in 
order that souls should not be elated with the victories, 
and forasmuch as this manner of life is more secure, being 
hidden in Christ. We have no further intention of com- 
menting in this place, because even the one who most 
feels on this subject x could not find in this passage an 
occasion to exhibit his malice. Let us then proceed to 
more clear statements. When commending to his two 
friends, Chromatius and Eusebius, the care of his sister, 
he says : 2 " I may well state that my sister is as a new fruit 
produced in Christ by the skill of our saintly Julian ; he 
planted it, do you both cultivate it, for God will give the 
increase. This fruit has been given me (as though a new 
thing) by Jesus Christ, after the enemy had wounded her 
soul so badly, by bringing her from death to life, for which 
reason ' I am fearful of even what is most secure ' (as the 
poet says). You are well aware, my friends, how slippery 
and prone is the state of youth for falls ; in it I fell, and 
you yourselves did not pass that period without great 
fears ; she commences to enter it, and so she has great need 
of being assisted by many counsels, admonished by many 
warnings, and needs sustaining by much comforting : I 
mean to ask that with your saintly letters you give her 
frequently advice and inspire her with courage. And, 
whereas charity suffers all things, I pray you very 
earnestly to induce Bishop Valerian also to write to her 
to this purpose, and encourage her, since you are well 
aware how greatly the minds of young women are 
restrained and encouraged when they perceive that 
persons of such distinction are watchful for them." 

This, indeed, is a very powerful confession of St. 
Jerome's, since he clearly states that he fell in his 

1 Erasmus. 2 Epist. 43. 


youth, and for the purpose of what he says he declares 
the condition of his fall ! I do not know how they can 
fall into this error, unless from being so experienced ; these 
authors are capable of anything. Now, I ask, from what 
do they infer that, when a saint says, "I also am weak and 
miserable, and have had many falls, and often fell when 
a young man," — that, for that reason, he states that he 
lost his virginity? Most certainly, if we follow such a 
rigid argument, we shall declare that there is not a single 
virgin left, because which of the saints will say that he did 
not fall ? Since they judged all things to be of mortal 
danger, who is there that does not perceive this ? And 
how many manners of falling may not be found in that 
state ? Of the just, the sacred Scriptures tell us, he falls 
seven times each day, yet with all these many falls he 
does not lose the name of just ; but here they require that 
Jerome after one fall should lose that inestimable jewel ! 

By this line of reasoning they might also condemn the 
Apostle of the Gentiles, who, after having been a " vessel 
of election," and having carried through the world that 
precious name of salvation, was made a captive in the 
bands of concupiscence, because he says that the laws of 
the nobler part of the soul are made captive to the laws 
of sin. If the humble and consoling words of the saints 
are to be received and understood in so crude a point, we 
shall have no saint left, and this seems to be the aim of 
those who so read them. Let us hear what St. Basil 
declares in a book he wrote on True Virginity, 1 where he 
says what we have already declared as regards these men, 
that they would wish to minimise in the saints this virtue 
of purity ! " Let no one think," he says, " that, if the body 
be that of a virgin it follows that the soul is that of a virgin 
likewise ; it may be that the body is pure, yet interiorly the 

1 Basil, De Vera Virginit. 


soul may not be so. A bold, unguarded look puts the soul on 
its guard against what was not seen by pure eyes. Words 
whispered tenderly in the ear to touch the heart corrupt 
and deflower it. From this is at once inferred — if in the 
soul purity is lost, what reason have we to declare that 
the body still retains that virtue ? " I do suspect that 
from these words of the saint occasion has been taken for 
saying that sentence commonly ascribed to St. Basil : " I 
never knew woman, yet I do not thereby judge myself to 
be a virgin." 

In the same manner does our doctor express himself 
when writing to the virgin Eustochium : " If those who are 
emaciated, shut up in the deserts, endure so many battles 
of the flesh solely with their thoughts, what shall we say 
of the battles which a young damsel is exposed to, who 
is placed in such luxury ? " Let us, according to this 
reasoning, reckon this saint among the dead, for, accord- 
ing to the unappealable sentence of these rigid censors of 
virginity, she is lost ! 

In order that this be better understood, I should like 
to ask those, who so darkly interpret the language of the 
saints, were we to lay hold of one of those, who so earnestly 
are striving to be servants of God, such as Jerome, and 
endeavouring with all the strength of their souls to love 
some signal virtue, praise him as being well exercised and 
excelling in it, or let him imagine that we knew he 
prided himself on possessing such a virtue, what would 
the saint say in that case ? Would he take pride in this ? 
Would he take occasion to glorify himself in this virtue, 
although he might be distinguished for it ? Most certainly 
he would not ; rather, with troubled countenance and eyes 
cast down, he would excuse himself with the best reasoning 
he could find in order not to speak falsehood to men or 
show himself ungrateful to God. Thus did Jerome act, 


who, being the learned man he was, came out of this 
difficulty in a humble, honourable manner. " I have not," 
he said, " that which you deem I so greatly extol, because 
I see myself so experienced in it ; rather do I marvel when 
I see those who possess it. But let no one be deceived 
with flattery and praises, because there are two virginities, 
which follow two births, the one of the flesh, and the other 
of the spirit ; and whereas the one fights against the other, 
we oftentimes see ourselves cast down by the law of the 
flesh, doing what we do not wish to do." Which is equal 
to saying more clearly : Although, in the body, I am a 
virgin, yet in the spirit I do not know whether I am 
because I know not how I come out of those combats, and 
of the encounters which the flesh makes against the spirit ; 
and I marvel greatly at those who have this virginity, for 
they are like pure white doves who soar aloft above 
this earth, whilst I see myself attached to it. This 
appears to me to be the secret and native meaning of 
this quotation. Because, when I behold how carefully the 
saints view their defects, how they withdraw from them- 
selves the consideration of their virtues, and how readily 
they accuse themselves of the smallest defect, I am inclined 
to believe of them the contrary of what their words would 
seem to convey; and in some manner God is desirous that 
they be revealed and made manifest, as is seen by this text, 
which, if it be not understood in this manner, would have 
no meaning. The saints esteem being humble more than 
being virgins, because virginity may be found together 
with pride, but not humility ; for having humility, all else 
remains secure. Hence this perfectly agrees with that 
sentence of St. Bernard, 1 who affirms that God was more 
won by the humility of His holy mother than by her 

1 Bern. Horn. Sup, Missus est. 


Indeed the love and force of this virtue has so power- 
fully acted on the saints that it induces them to do and to 
say things apparently far from reason and from truth, 
although in them is found no deficiency of reason or of 
truth. From this comes what is said of them that often- 
times it appears as though they spoke not the truth, yet 
they never lie ! St. Paul calls himself the least of the 
apostles, unworthy to bear that name ! St. John the 
Baptist declares he is no prophet ! The one was so great 
an apostle, the other the greatest of the prophets ! Yet 
neither the one nor the other lied, because on the occasions 
when they said this they considered what they were in 
themselves and of themselves, and whereas they found 
nought but poverty, without looking upon what they held 
from God, judging it to belong to another master, they 
hesitate not to cast themselves down and attribute to them- 
selves all the evils, which may be expected from so corrupt 
a principle. They consider, on the contrary, the good in 
others, what benefits they received from God, and pros- 
trate on the ground acknowledge those gifts, and in the 
sense and rule in which they walk, without duplicity or 
hypocrisy, they humble themselves down to the most 
abject ones of the earth, holding themselves to be even 
worse than they are, not as regards outward deeds, but in 
that fear of being ungrateful for the benefits received and 
for that which they clearly see on their part is struggling 
to come out ! From whence we may well affirm that, in 
spite of what St. Jerome may say that he was not a virgin 
either in body or in soul (and it is easier to affirm the first 
than the second), we are not bound to believe him either 
in regard to the first or to the second, because we have 
already seen the way in which the humble speak ; and the 
more so when we remember how God does not allow them 
to keep silent for long, affording them occasions to reveal 


the truth, as was witnessed in St. Paul and in the Baptist, 
who confessed by word and by deed what to all appear- 
ances they had denied, and the same thing also happened 
to our saint, as we shall see farther on. 

St. Augustine declares a grave thing when, speaking to 
this purpose, he says : "I dare to affirm that to the 
proud virgin it is no small benefit to fall from that purity, 
in order that with the fall he may humble himself in that 
which he was proud of." x And in his books De Civitate 
Dei he affirms, that, if the Lord permitted the virgins of 
Rome to be corrupted by the barbarian Goths, it was in 
order to humble them in their haughtiness, or from that 
which should spring from it, should they respect it as a 
sacred thing. Virginity is a high and sovereign virtue, 
which lifts up a man to a state, which is more than 
human, and therefore it is necessary to conceal it with 
timidity, in order that there should not happen to them 
what occurred to the sons of Israel in Egypt, when 
Pharaoh, on becoming aware that a male child was born, 
ordered that it should be slain. In the same way does 
the tyrannical evil spirit act in ourselves, for with pride 
he seeks to destroy the manly virtues, which spring up in 
our souls. The remedy is to hide them. This is taught 
us by Jerome as by one who, knowing the figure well, 
conceals his virginity, and without falsehood denies the 
birth of the Israelite within his house. Because, as there 
is no greater war made than that which sensuality wages 
against virgins, the saint is full of fear lest, without being 
aware of it, death may have taken place within his own 
doors. " The enemy," says the angelic Doctor on the 
Master of the sentences, 2 " awakens in the flesh of virgins 
a natural curiosity with ardent desires to experience what 

1 Aug. De verb. Dom. secundum Joan., homil. 53, torn. 10 ; Aug. De Civitat. Dei, 
Book 2, c. 28. 2 S. Thom. 4, d. 49. q. 5. art. 3. g. I. 1. 


the imagination, falsely moved by the appetite, represents 
to them in the form of an extreme delight, far greater 
without comparison than what it can be in reality." This 
great doctor speaks from experience, for he was a virgin ; 
and, if any saint on earth was tried in this respect, it was 
undoubtedly Jerome, because as we shall see later in our 
narrative in the midst of the most rugged and inhabitable 
desert this enemy would represent to him in more vivid 
form than if he actually saw them the bands of Roman 
maidens and their dances ; and he declares that he 
dreaded even his own little cell, and dared not enter it, 
fearing that the very walls themselves should know his 
thoughts. From one who is thus tempted, and to whom 
is put the question — whether he be a virgin or not, 
what answer can he be expected to give ? 

It must needs be that one should be like the saints to 
comprehend the language of the saints, because in that 
they do they appear mad to the world, as well as in the 
things they say, and were we to judge them rigorously by 
the words they utter, very few indeed would be canonised 
in the Church. St. Basil confesses 1 that, as man, he 
cannot deny that he is full of faults and errors. St. 
Gregory Nazianzen, in his verses, after acknowledging 
that in the body he has been a virgin, says, that as to his 
mind he is not so in soul — thus speak both master and 
disciple. St. Bernard, in one of his sermons, says : 2 
" There was a time when that cruel enemy subjected my 
body to his tyranny, powerfully ruling all my members, 
dragging them into his service ; and the great havoc he 
worked then can be seen even now in the scars left by 
that havoc." And in another sermon, 3 he says : " Be joyful 
ye that never stained the white garment, and can glory 

1 Basil, Epist. 77. 2 Bern., serm. de Assump. Virgin. 

3 Bern., serm. de Virg. Maria. 


with our heavenly Queen in the privilege of virginity, that 
virtue, which in me has perished, now there is not even 
breath left to reattain it ; I impoverished myself on my 
dung-heap ; I am made like a beast." 

In this way we might quote something of every one of 
the saints, yet with regard to many their virginity was 
never placed in doubt, nor are their words to be taken in 
the literal sense as having lost it. And the reason why 
this has been commented upon in our saint is, because 
those, who found fault and criticised his epistles and books, 
found those self-humiliations which are to be found in all 
the saints' witness, and so they corrupted the meaning of 
his saintly words. And this reason works in me so firmly 
that it urges me to hold as evidence the very contrary to 
what they feel themselves ; forasmuch as St. Jerome is 
in an extreme degree given to humility, and to 
attribute faults to himself and to deny what is good in 
himself or to conceal it, disguise and minimise it — and, 
what is more, to call the defects of others his own. 
When relating in an Epistle to Julian how Heliodorus 
had quitted the desert, whose solitude both had embraced, 
Jerome, not wishing to subject his friend to any reproach 
of levity, blames himself for the fault, saying : " Here 
lived the holy brother Heliodorus who, wishing to reside 
along with me in the desert, has at last departed, driven 
away by my evil doings." If this is to be understood as it 
is expressed, when it was altogether different, what can 
we say of this glorious Father ? And whereas it is clearly 
seen that in the sense of these words he is speaking in 
modesty as well as what in another part he says, when 
describing the cause of this departure, it is evident that 
we must do the same in our statement, and that if he 
says he praises that virginity which he has not, it proceeds 
from the same root, for he subsequently reveals the 


contrary. Let us, therefore, hear him when he speaks 
truthfully of himself, and what he feels when he deems he 
speaks in security. When writing to the holy virgin Eusto- 
chium, 1 to whom, as to a most pure dove, he manifested 
his secrets, for in truth she was worthy of such honour and 
privilege by reason of her sanctity and prudence, he 
expresses himself in this manner: "Not only do we 
praise virginity and extol it, but we likewise observe it 
in our daily lives, because it does not suffice to know what 
is good, unless we guard with care that which we hold as 
such, for that appertains to the understanding and this to 
the deed and the work ; the first is common and known by 
many, the second is for the few ; he that perseveres to 
the end will be saved ; for many are called, but few 
are chosen ! " Undoubtedly this passage proves more 
clearly that St. Jerome was a virgin than the others 
that he was not. This reason is a powerful one. St. 
Jerome says he was not a virgin, and again states 
that he was a virgin : if he was not a virgin and yet 
says that he was, it is an untruth and pride ; whilst, if 
he was a virgin and denies it, this would be humility and 
Christian modesty — hence we must admit the affirmation of 
the latter and not the former. They would reply that the 
passage can be explained away and means something else. 
And let me ask, Have the other passages no explanation ? 
Very well, then, let us come to the explanation, and let the 
first remark be on the first objection, 2 from which explana- 
tion we might very well urge that the Apostle St. James said 
in his Epistle, 3 " Behold how small a fire what a great wood 
it kindleth ? And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity." 
And, in truth, such appears to be some of the explanations 
of this censor. He manifests it in this passage in which, 

1 Efist. 22. * Erasmus in Vita divi Hieronymi. 

3 St. James iii. 5, 6. 


scorning all others, he paraphrases in this manner : 1 
" Not only do we praise Virginity but we even keep it, 
which means that we, moreover, teach it, and we give rules 
as to how that virtue should be guarded." This proves 
his intention : in the first place, because he states that it is 
a phrase very well known and elegant in the Latin tongue, 
and well expresses what we say that we keep well that 
which we give rules for guarding. Secondly, because the 
title of the letter expresses it, which is De Virginitate 
servanda, that is to say, a letter which teaches how to 
preserve virginity ; and lastly, because the coherence and 
the thread of the letter consists in publishing it, and it 
cannot be understood otherwise. 

Let us, therefore, attack this exponent with this 

last reason itself. Let us see, in conformity with his 

exposition, how the text runs, and what connection it 

carries. Not only do we praise (says the text) virginity, 

but we even give rules in order to guard it. Following 

this exposition, let us add the rest, and we shall see how 

it fits in, or rather how it destroys the text ; because it 

does not suffice to know what is good, unless with great 

care we guard what is held as such. To which must be 

added the exposition, " unless it is guarded in others," 

whence the absurdity is made patent, furthermore, by what 

directly follows ; the former touches the understanding, 

and the latter the deed and the work ; the first is common 

and is known to many, the second to the few; he only, 

who perseveres to the end, will be saved. Oh, thou new 

exponent, let me ask you, Which is it that touches the 

understanding ? The giving of rules to preserve virginity, 

and how to treat and know the virtue, you will doubtless 

say. Then it is to deeds and to labour that appertains 

the preservation of the virtue, the former thing being of 

1 Erasmus in Vita divi Hieron. ect. in antidote hujus Epist. 22. 


many, the latter for the few ; and few are chosen for so 
lofty a virtue. Do you now perceive clearly the coherence 
and the reasoning, similarly to the word of St. Jerome, who 
preserves virginity, and not only extols it, which does not 
mean, nor can it mean, that he gives rules and teaches 
how to keep them, and in this way he keeps what is in 
others ? Do you see how greatly you are worthy of pity 
and of derision ? But let us come to your statement. 
When did you find in St. Jerome, or in any other author, 
who knew Latin, such a manner of speech ? It might well 
be said of Seneca, and of Aristotle, and of other noted 
philosophers, who disputed on all the virtues, that, because 
they gave admirable rules for acquiring them, they prac- 
tised those virtues ? You are so desirous of depriving 
the saints of their virtues that, in order to do so, you 
counterfeit new phrases in the Latin tongue ? The title 
of the Epistle is the Guarding of Virginity, and not its 
praises, for this was the new road which the saint chose, 
different from that taken by Tertullian, Ambrose, and 
Damasus ; hence what he teaches is truth ; but the rules 
he gives he has taken from experience, from his own 
labour, from his continual circumspection, from his 
perseverance in combating ; for all this regards the few, 
and thus he states, for example, in many of his epistles : 
" And he can do so without arrogance, because he is 
speaking as to a loved daughter, and he tempers it in 
such sort that he rather attempts to manifest his own 
weakness than to demonstrate his virtues." This is the 
first exposition ! 

Now let us take the second, and let us leave the 
court of critics to finish arguing this dispute on behalf 
of our saint against the author, who, witnessing how far 
he goes from reason, says to him as follows: 1 "What do 

1 Marianus in Vita divi Hieronymi. 


you seek ? What do you suppose ? What are you 
inquiring about ? For how can it be declared in clearer 
terms or by a more manifest testimony that St. Jerome 
was a virgin than by the words which he himself speaks ? " 
Whereas others saw that this did not agree, and that 
the coherence and the letter and what was so lauded and 
repeated made the explanation of no value, they attempted 
to explain the distinction between the first virginity and 
the second, of the first birth and the second one, as we have 
stated above. They say that he declares in the former 
passages the loss of the first virginity, and the virginity 
of the second birth is what he clearly states he did not 
only praise but that he also keeps ; because it matters little 
to know the good, if it is not held and possessed. This is a 
subtle and skilled distinction for those, who do not see how 
out of purpose they are to treat the subject, and for those 
who are not aware that men so learned as Jerome, when 
they purpose to treat on a subject, do not transform or 
use equivocation in their words in a puerile manner, using 
the signification in a different way. The saintly doctor 
proceeds to treat learnedly, and with all propriety, the 
subject of virginity, which the Church and the saints and 
the entire world celebrates and lauds in pure and holy 
maidens, and was he to pass on without any purpose to 
treat in its severest point of the chastity of souls after 
baptism, which is a virtue that is found in souls after that 
sacrament even in such as were not chaste before receiving 
it ? Moreover, it is a style of language, which is quite 
unusual, because who styles St. Augustine and St. Cyprian, 
or any of the saints, who had children before being bap- 
tized, virgins, because after their baptism they were most 
pure and saintly ? Nor when indeed did any of them dare 
to attribute to themselves so great a title ? No doubt 
such as say this do not advert that, strictly speaking, as 


the dialecticians say, this word virgin and virginity in its 
force and value sounds as a purpose of not severing that 
corporal seal guarding in its purity body and soul ; and 
in this sense does the saintly doctor proceed to write his 
Epistle, like one who well knows what it is to speak with 
propriety and metaphor : " Because the chastity of the soul 
and cleanness of heart is a general virtue, whose founda- 
tion and root is laid in charity and all the other theological 
virtues, which form the espousals of the soul and God ; but 
that virtue, which directly looks to the things in which 
concupiscence becomes unbridled, in order to correct and 
hold them, this is properly styled chastity ; to which, on 
adding a most firm purpose of abstaining perpetually from 
all sensible delectations, which are the matter of this form, 
there is induced a particular and, as it were, an angelic 
virtue, which is called virginity." This veil is so delicate 
that the saints always treat on it with great circumspection, 
and there are few, who dare to boast of its beauty, so much 
so that St. Augustine says 1 that the instant the thread of 
this perpetual purpose of guarding integrity is severed, 
this virtue becomes lost. And other doctors and saints 
so subtilly treat of this that they dare to affirm in their 
theology 2 that this crown (called aureole in their 
language), which is given in heaven to virgins, is not 
enjoyed, nor is it attained (even with a firm purpose), 
unless confirmed by vow. From this proceed the fears 
of the saints, and their circumspection ; and from this 
likewise the thought of our saint to deny the possession 
of such a treasure. 

But, in all truth, I do not see how before his baptism 
Jerome could have lost this virtue, as our adversaries by 
common consent assert. Because whoever examines the 

1 Aug. in lib. De bono Conjugali. 

2 St. Thorn. 4. addit. q. 96, art. 5. 


life the saintly youth led at that time in Rome — his great 
studies, his naturally holy inclinations, his tender age, his 
devotion in visiting the sepulchres and the cemeteries, 
wherein were laid the martyrs, his noble companions, holy 
and devout — how can it be imagined that he sustained such 
a fall, or what could have occasioned it ? Who is not aware 
that, ere such a fall takes place, it is preceded long before 
by many failings and stumblings, induced by slothfulness, 
by evil company, and by sinful inclinations, and never 
suddenly ? 

Hence we have fully investigated (whether our adver- 
saries be convinced or not) that both before and after 
being baptized Jerome was most chaste and pure, and 
that to say the contrary is a statement sprung from hearts 
of men of small minds, and who do not view or judge the 
question in a right manner. 



We have briefly considered in the First Book the relation 
of the first and second periods of the life of St. Jerome — 
his infancy and boyhood — as far as we have been able to 
gather from his own writings. We now come to the third 
period or age, which is called adolescence. This age or 
period, which, according to the general opinion, works a 
perfect revolution during its course, begins at about the 
fifteenth year and extends to the twenty-first or twenty- 
second year of a man's life, when .the full growth of the 
body is attained and his stature is set. Nature proceeds so 
rapidly during this period, and is so busy with that part of 
the soul, which philosophers call vegetative, with the object 
of concluding her work, that all that there is in man, and 
more especially what appertains to the part of reason, is 
entirely in a state of unquiet, and calculated to imperfectly 
exercise its office, and, as a consequence, not so free for 
undertaking things of purpose, yet ready for all that is 
amusing and inclined for the things of concupiscence. 

Our saint commenced this third period of life in his 
fifteenth year, a number a thousand times sacred and 
holy in the Sacred Scriptures, as being one which enclosed 
in itself the mystery of the two Testaments, the New 
and the Old. Thus does St. Augustine teach us when 
he says, speaking of the Psalms, " The number of 
our years are seventy, in those that are strong, eighty," 



where it says : " Seventy and eighty make a hundred 
and fifty," and in this number a holy thing is mani- 
fested, because the Book of the Psalms is composed 
of this number. If seven and eight be added they 
make fifteen. Seven declares the Old Testament, and 
eight the New ; the first on account of the observance of 
the seventh day, which was the Sabbath, and the latter, 
by reason of the eighth, which is the eternal rest of 
the Sunday, figured for all, and as though in its proper 
cause in the Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ. 
Likewise, because the number of seven is a number, in 
which is revolved the whole course of life, and of the 
temporal things, which were promised the earthly men of 
the Old Testament ; and the figure eight is, as it were, 
an already commenced possession of the land of the living 
in the person of the divine men of the New Testament, 
and of the law of grace." 

This is told us by St. Augustine along with other 
things in respect to the number fifteen. 

The illustration of this was brought to its loftiest 
point by our saintly doctor. Comprehending its mystery, 
enclosed in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians, 
he teaches us that those fifteen days, during which St. Paul 
communicated with St. Peter in Jerusalem, symbolise a 
plenitude of science and a singular perfection of doctrine, 
because in the Psalter there are fifteen psalms, which are 
like fifteen steps, by which the just man ascends until he 
attains to stand up and appear in the presence of the 
Divine Majesty and enter into the courts of the House 
of the Lord, singing with a joyful voice. It was up 
this mystic number of steps that the King Ezechias 
mounted to receive the prodigious sign of an increase of 
life for fifteen years, returning, or like to the sun turning 
back from the gates of death. The most solemn feasts of 


the Lord God of Israel commenced on the fifteenth day of 
the moon. This, says St. Jerome, was the number 
of years he had attained when he entered the third period 
or age, that of adolescence, a great sign of the pleni- 
tude of science he would attain. Because, when in the 
previous age, that of puberty, Jerome studied as we have 
seen human letters, and in them had become so pro- 
ficient, now in the present age he lifts his soul to highef 
things, and having still to soar in his flight, which is no 
less than to enter into the knowledge of that sacred science, 
which is enclosed in the two Testaments, it becomes, as it 
were, necessary that he should cast all the blandishments 
of that period into the waters of the Deluge, mystically 
represented by the fifteen fathoms deep which rose above 
the highest parts of the earth. And that commencing to 
sing a new canticle he should rise step by step, following 
the fifteen stages of the courts of the Temple of One 
greater than Solomon until he should enter into the 
knowledge of that perfect wisdom, which leads to eternal 
salvation, prolonging it by the number of fifteen years, in 
order to enclose in itself not only what is measured by 
the temporal seven, but even what is comprehended by 
the eight of eternal duration. 

To my mind this illustration fits the soul of our saint, 
and is well founded coming from the school of Pythagoras ; 
for, wishing to afford us a knowledge of the composition, 
being, parts, and offices of the soul, they symbolised it by 
figures and numbers. They set a triangle of equal parts, 
and at the one point or angle of the triangle they placed 
the first cipher, that of one ; along the sides they placed 
even numbers on one side, and odd numbers on the other ; 
on the one side beneath the number i they put 2, under 
2 they put 4, and at the base 8, and on the other side the 
odd numbers. These even numbers added together make 


14, with the one at top 15 ; and in thus doing they seemed 
to think they revealed to us the rank, office, virtue, 
strength, and power of the soul. The soul is represented 
by the triangle with its three powers, defined by its three 
equal sides, or its three virtues or grades, viz. vital, animal, 
and rational ; • and in this third period or age, that of 
adolescence, the soul commences to manifest the fulness 
of its grades, performing works guided by the reason, and 
having the faculty of making use of those actions, which 
theologians and moral philosophers define as deliberate, 
and proper to manhood, springing from the power of the 
free will. That which unites at the top is indicative of 
what is superior to the Spirit as something which stands 
in a higher position than itself, contained in the highest 
simplicity, free of division or plurality, in one simple 
Being. Metaphysicians generally declare that all that we 
behold distributed, and, as it were, spread out amid the 
inferior things of virtue or perfection — all becomes joined 
together and made into One by superior virtue, without 
division, as far as its grades will allow, ascending from one 
to the other until united, merged without any manner -of 
division or composition into the most simple nature of God! 
This is that most perfect union which above itself the soul 
contemplates ; all else descends with some division, and 
is lower than the soul, and becomes multiplied. This is 
what is signified by the even numbers being placed along 
the sides of the triangle, such as are 2, 4, 8, which make 
up the sum of 14 of the material things, which are divisible. 
This is not the place to carry this reason to its completion, 
going beyond the limits of history ; it suffices, therefore, 
to gather from the great sphere which begins to be revealed 
to us that which is to our purpose, viz. that our saint, at 
the period he is now entering on, has left behind him the 
two other past periods, like to one who gazes down far 


below his feet at worldly things — material, puerile — and 
raises his eyes and the wings of his thoughts to that 
eternal unity, to the solid truth which never deceives ; 
and, bidding adieu for ever to the number 14, places the 
goal of his desires in that union of 7 and 8, entering the 
school of both the Testaments, which is promised him in 
the inheritance of Him, who was not satisfied to sign it in 
the mystical blood of so many animals — forasmuch as it 
was of no effect for such lofty possessions — but who signed 
it with the blood of His own Son, and such as received 
Him He did not disdain to call His brethren. 


After St. Jerome had received the Sacrament of Baptism he 
departed to France, to visit the learned Men there and 
to prosecute his Studies. He enters a Desert with 

The holy youth Jerome, vested in his beautiful livery, the 
superior part of his soul, which is called mind, inflamed by 
a lively faith, a firm hope, an ardent charity ; the inferior 
part, which is styled rational, adorned with varied dis- 
cipline as we have said ; the understanding enlightened 
and luminous, the will indoctrinated with holy customs, 
the body drilled from its earliest years to obey the spirit, 
the tongue exercised in expressing the thoughts conceived 
by the heart — he was minded to bend his steps towards 
studies of greater depth, to which his heart was impelling 
him with ardent desires. He endeavoured, therefore, in 
all earnestness to employ his whole self in the study of 
the sacred scriptures, and of that celestial philosophy which 
is enclosed in them ; for it appeared to him (as he himself 
states in another part) that it was meet that a man whilst 
.on earth should study that which is to be continued in 
Heaven. Our saint reflected in himself that the natural 
inclination, which is found in all men for acquiring science 
and knowledge, is never satisfied in the things here 
below, because inferior to the yearnings of the immortal 



soul, and because also they possess in them better 
principles and the seeds of more lovely fruits, which urge 
them to investigate more precious treasures and secrets 
than those which nature hides in herself. He also con- 
sidered how necessary it was to find a good method for 
pursuing such studies, in order to go over a long road in a 
short time, because in truth the longest life is but short to 
attain knowledge. He likewise perceived that among the 
great men, whose memories live, and which time is unable 
to efface, they followed two manners of proceeding. Some, 
in order to verify with accuracy what they learnt, sought 
to see with their own eyes what they had read, and to find 
these things, or at least find those who with a living 
voice might instruct them, and for this purpose undertook 
long voyages, unwilling to trust solely to books and 
written narratives. Others did not pursue so laborious a 
course, but by reading and pondering over strange 
writings which they had found, or by exchanging valuable 
documents with other students, contented themselves by 
elucidating what was more intricate and obscure — these 
were called in ancient times by the Hebrew title of 
Scribes, in the Latin learned, and in the Greek 
Grammarians, which titles, once so honourable, are now 
cast aside by the ignorance of the masses, like the dust 
under their feet. These great and noble men left 
imperishable memories of their genius, much wealth to 
future ages which have profited by their works, and a 
good and safe model for others to follow in their path ; 
and, as the poet says, 1 despite the fact that they died and 
were laid to rest like other mortals, yet their fame brings 
them back to us in remembrance, and they live, so to 
speak, notwithstanding that they are dead. The path 
followed by the first, and the most difficult (although the 

1 Virg. Aen. 6. 


surest for the purpose) did Jerome deem proper to choose, 
since it appeared to him — as in truth it was — that com- 
munion and intercourse with persons, and the actual, 
palpable knowledge of things and places, was a living 
power, a certitude, as it were, which those cannot have, 
who pursue the second road. The power and virtue, 
which the word carries with it when coming from the 
teacher, hearing the voice express the individual thought 
as it rises from the heart, is a living commentary, which 
is of greater advantage than that which we gather from 
the written page, similarly as the reality differs from the 

No one treated on this subject more bravely than did 
the doctor himself. Let us hear his own words as they 
occur in the epistle, which he wrote to Paulinus — words 
worthy of being the entrance-gate to the royal palace of 
the sacred scriptures. His words are as follows : — 

" We read in ancient histories of men who have 
traversed provinces, who have visited new countries and 
peoples, who have navigated distant seas, solely to gaze 
on the features of those about whom they have read of in 
books." It would be too long were I to translate the 
whole quotation. Farther on he enumerates the various 
examples, to prove his assertion, of renowned men, such 
as Pythagoras, who went from Calabria to Egypt, to the 
city of Memphis ; Plato, of whom he says that he went 
through the whole world following the trace of letters, which 
he imagined were slipping away from him. He went away 
from Athens, where he was universally held to be the 
master, to become a disciple in Egypt ; from thence he 
returned to Italy, in order to study under Archytas of 
Tarentum, and while on the way fell into the hands of the 
Corsairs, and although he found himself a captive in the 
power of a tyrant as regards the body, yet his soul was 


free to follow his gift of philosophy), He also brings 
forward, as an example, what is recounted of Livy, 
who, when dwelling in Rome, attracted by the force and 
fame of his eloquence great numbers of people from 
distant provinces ; and those, who would not have been 
drawn by reason of the grandeur of Rome, were led 
thither by the sole desire to see one great man, and when 
entering into so famous a city sought in it no other 
object. This is confirmed by Apollonius, who learned 
while on his long travels that which later on endowed 
him with the surname of " Magi " and Philosopher. 

Our Jerome, placed in the position we have seen, and 
finding himself already possessed of a wealth of erudtt&ai; 
judged that it was time he should pass on to higher 
studies, and resolved to quit Rome and seek for su&&'->. 
masters as would teach him the road to the greatest of the 
sciences. He determined to pass on to France, and 
persuaded his great friend Bonosus to accompany him with 
the same object. It is true to say that in Rome there 
were men learned in the sacred Scriptures ; but, on the 
other hand, there had come flying rumours of many 
wise men in Gaul, and furthermore on the way thither 
they could become acquainted with the rhetoricians and 
great orators of the Latin tongue, who flourished in those 
lands, and be able to copy the manner of eloquent speech, 
and imitate that grandeur of oratory, which has ever been 
common to them ; and by joining this to the gravity of the 
Roman style they might form, between these two extremes, 
a middle diction, which, without offence, should partake of 
what was good and of advantage in both. 

Another motive for undertaking this journey was to 
frequent the great and famous libraries that were scattered 
throughout the cities of France in those times, where, by 
taking notes of the best authors found there, they might 



enrich themselves by collecting and purchasing good 
books, for, despite the fact, that the price would be high, 
since they were all in manuscript, yet Jerome would be 
able to defray the cost, because, as we have said, he was 
the son of wealthy parents, and who were nothing loth to 
provide him with such just needs. The saintly youth was 
thus moved to start on his journey ; nevertheless, this was 
not the primary motive which had impelled him to go 
forth, but what I shall proceed to state. 

At the time Jerome studied in Rome — being very 
young — the various branches of learning we have spoken 
about; the holy Bishop of Pictavium (Poitiers), having 
returned from exile, was during that period engaged in 
reforming and confirming in the faith throughout Italy and 
Illyria all the churches, and such as had been infected by 
the general heresy of Arius. 

The holy prelate effected this reform with such diligence, 
and afforded so great an example of sanctity and such erudi- 
tion accompanied by native eloquence that he was held 
throughout the provinces as a father general of the faith 
and pillar of light to the Church. 

It is true that Eusebius, the Bishop of Vercelli, 
greatly assisted St. Hilary in this undertaking ; but all 
such writers as have written of this subject — among 
them Sozomen, 1 Socrates, 2 Rufinus, 3 Nicephorus, 4 and 
others — unanimously accord the palm to the holy prelate of 
Poitiers, and speak of him in this affair as though he stood 

The whole of Italy was full of his fame, and in every 
place men commented on his work, his solid faith, his 
great learning and eloquence ; and in Rome, as a conse- 
quence, all this was not concealed but made known, and 

1 Sozomen, lib. 5, c. 12. 2 Socrat. lib. 3, c. 8. 

3 Rufin. lib. 1, c. 30, 31 4 Nizeph. lib. 10, c. 17. 


therefore Jerome must have had considerable tidings of 
his doings. 

It was, moreover, a subject of general comment in 
this city at that time how greatly Belles-Lettres flourished 
in France, and that questions of faith were defined in a 
masterly manner, and that there were many books and 
writings which as yet had not been published. And for one 
who, like our saintly youth, had such high purposes and 
aspirations, to undertake these studies in an earnest 
manner it is clearly manifest that the knowledge of these 
facts acted as a vivid stimulus to undertake with joy and 
zest this great journey, judging it to be one of importance 
and interest. This resolution he carried out, and thus 
commenced to follow the path of those above-mentioned 
men who studied more wisely by seeing and by travel. 

It is by conjecture, as there is no further light to guide 
us, that we believe Jerome to have been in his seventeenth 
or eighteenth year, although some hold that he must have 
been twenty or twenty-one, — for he himself says that being 
a young man he went to France, to that part of Brittany 
called Scotia, where he found the inhabitants of the 
province so uncivilised that they eat human flesh. 

I doubt whether he made the acquaintance of the holy 
Bishop Hilary. Some hold it as certain that he did, and 
that he remained with him a few days, in accordance with 
those words which he wrote, Ad Magnum Oratorem, where 
he calls Hilary the Confessor of his time. 

According to what our saint states in his Chronicles, 
Hilary died in the year 372 of our Holy Redeemer, or, 
according to Honophrius in 378, in the fifth year of the reigns 
of Valentinian and Valens, while the Roman Breviary puts 
it down as the year 373. On his return from the war of 
the heretics and the reformation he effected in Italy he 
proceeded to reside quietly in his bishopric for six years, 


according as the authors who lived nearest his time assert, 
and along with them Sulpicius. Hence, according to our 
reckoning with respect to the age of Jerome, he must have 
been at least twenty-three years old, when Hilary died. 
The very fact that in none of his epistles does he himself 
mention having spoken to or communicated with Hilary, 
despite that with his usual humility he loved to call himself 
his disciple, strengthens me in the belief that he neither 
saw him nor conversed with him. 

The first place these two good students Jerome and 
Bonosus dwelt in, when they came to France, appears to 
have been on the banks of the Rhine (Rhenus) ; this he 
gives us to understand when writing to Rufinus. 1 Now 
as there existed many cities along the banks of this great 
river it is not possible to say in which of them the two 
youths took up their abode, unless we state that it was in 
the city which took its name from the river, similarly as 
those who live in Alcala, we say, reside in the town of 
Henares, and so on ; and therefore we will say he lived in 
the city so-called of the Rhine. 

Before it flows into the ocean this great river divides 
into different branches, and after separating France from 
Germany spreads out, according to Cornelius Tacitus, into 
two, and according to Pliny and Ptolemy (which seems to 
be truer) into three arms — one arm being called Hebus, the 
other Helius, the third remaining with the name of Rhine, 
which last named being the largest of the three streams, 
the name of that town was called the city of the Rhine ; 
and to this place did these saintly companions withdraw 
for some time, because he says that these half-barbarian 
tribes, who inhabited the banks of the Rhine, afforded them 
dwelling and support. 

Their abode here must have greatly pleased them, 

1 Epist. 41. 


because it was far removed from such human communica- 
tions as could disturb them from their holy thoughts, and 
distract them from the meditation of the sacred Scriptures, — 
as also because the river was to them a singular motive for, 
and a living lesson of that which with such earnestness 
they aspired to, which was to acquire purity of soul. 

This they judged to find in the path of meditation and 
penance, and for both these things the river suited them ; 
and its border people, although barbarians, served them 
for book and masters, for to him who yearns to advance in 
the path of virtue all things are of profit, all things speak 
to him and respond, and from all circumstances he knows 
how to draw precious interest. 

Some grave authors, such as Aristotle, Galen, Virgil, 
and St. Gregory Nazianzen state that the dwellers on 
the banks of the Rhine had the custom of taking newly 
born babes to the river to be washed in its cold waters, in 
order to work two effects ; viz. to make them healthy, and 
also to strengthen and brace up the body for future hard 

Galen, learned doctor that he was, and brought up 
in the luxury of Asia, greatly ridicules so barbarous a 
custom, and says it is madness to act in this manner. 
These barbarians think that new-born infants are like the 
red-hot iron taken from the forge, which becomes tempered 
and hardened by being immersed in cold water, and that 
similarly would infants be strengthened by immersion in 
cold water. This custom is referred to likewise by 
Aristotle, who covertly approves of it. Julius Caesar, 
also, declares this fact, as well as Virgil in his poems, 
when describing the custom of foreign races, and person- 
ally lauds it. St. Gregory Nazienzen refers to it in one 
of his Epigrams, and declares another secret motive for 
this custom, which was that thereby the father was 


assured of the legitimacy of the child. This strange 
custom of the people, and the property of the waters of 
this river, is made manifest to us by its own name of 
Rhine, which, in the language of the Germans and the 
Dutch, means pure, chaste, and without alloy. All this 
must have been to Jerome and Bonosus, newly- born 
children in Christ, a noble subject for their spiritual 
meditations and exercises, for to them also was known the 
custom and the properties of those waters. It would 
seem that they had purposely come there direct from the 
bosom of their Mother Church, in order to prove them- 
selves by early and hard penance, and, so to speak, to 
temper themselves from early boyhood to become saints, 
and in the company of those barbarous people to harden 
themselves in those cold waters,' in order to be able later 
on to know how to comport themselves in the midst of 
great encounters, discomforts, austerities, hunger, and 
rude treatment. Furthermore, it appears to me, they 
desired to prove themselves in the purity of those waters, 
frequently betaking themselves to the river's bank, and 
immersing themselves in the cold stream, in order to 
punish the irregular motions of youth. Turning their 
eyes towards heaven, and lifting up their souls in prayer, 
they must have uttered words of the following effect to 
their Lord and Father Jesus Christ : " Lord ! It has 
been done as Thou didst will. Thou hast engendered us, 
Thy children, in the holy bosom of Thy Church ! And 
in Thy inscrutable wisdom Thou didst will that it should 
have been in Rome : we have been born again in Thy pre- 
cious blood, and our souls are still quivering in its burning 
power ! Lord ! Do Thou prove us in these icy, flowing 
waters, and see whether for Thy love we can bear them ! 
Lord ! Do thou acknowledge us as Thy legitimate 
children, in order that from henceforth we may call thee, 


with a voice of confidence and full of lively hope, ' Our 
Father ! ' O Father and Lord ! preserve in our hearts 
the purity of our baptismal innocence which this river 
with its name brings back to our memory ; and since we 
did cast into the waters of baptism the poison of the 
ancient serpent, and the old Adam remained buried in 
them, enkindle and infuse in these present waters Thy 
holy love (for this we owe Thee as to our Father) and 
Thy holy fear, which as to our Lord we render Thee ; 
and by the icy coldness of these waters let the flesh and 
its desires be chilled, and its warmth all withdrawn into 
the soul, in order that with ardent desires we may seek 
Thee and serve Thee. And, whereas against the changes 
of time this river still preserves in the mother tongue 
the purity of its ancient dwellers, who were distinguished 
by the simplicity and chastity of their lives, do Thou, O 
Lord, preserve in us, despite all the assaults of this world 
and the powers of evil, this our first investiture — the pure 
being of Christian. May our life correspond with our 
name ; may the loyalty we owe Thee continue as long as 
life ; and permit not that these creatures of Thine should 
acknowledge any other Father, nor our souls love any 
other spouse." 

These and similar motives for holy thought and exer- 
cises did that dwelling-place suggest to them, for all 
things are of profit to such as walk with desires of 
deriving advantage. 

We have also good reasons for supposing that they 
suffered during their first residence in France many dis- 
comforts and dangers, privations and rude treatments, 
fears and sadness — two youths of such tender age, 
unknown, without relatives, friends, or protectors, and, 
moreover, surrounded by barbarous people and in a 
strange country, far distant from home, what else could be 


expected ? Yet, I know not what to think — for when I 
consider this epoch in the life of our saint I am amazed. 
At times it appears to me to be the desert of St. John the 
Baptist, although I perceive the difference ; at other times 
I call to mind the lion's den of Daniel, and though not the 
same, yet it partakes of the good and the evil of both 
episodes ; for it does not appear to me so fearful or so 
dangerous to live alone in the desert among the wild 
beasts, because I know they lack reason and are not 
lashed to attack you unless driven to do so, as it is to live 
with men, who although to all appearance they possess 
reason, yet never make use of it, and are roused to fury 
and persecute simply for a whim. Because, when man 
gives way to his passions, no animal can be compared to 
him. The King of Babylon was more concerned for the 
fate of Daniel, when the prophet was in the lion's den, on 
account of the fury which men might visit him with if 
brought out, than for the harm the lions would do to him 
when inside the pit, and for this reason he ordered the 
entrance to the pit to be sealed to prevent the populace 
from above killing him, to whom the lions below did 

Such as these, or worse, were the men with whom at 
such an early age our saint had to live with, for nearly all 
inhabitants of those shores were cannibals. We might 
well add, in view of what has been said already, and what 
Jerome had already experienced, that many saints whom 
we hold to be great might well have been content to end 
here, where in truth our saint was only commencing, — as 
the history of his life will reveal to us, — but God had 
created Jerome to be very great indeed in His Church, 
and therefore from his tenderest years He tries and proves 
him in things very lofty and very difficult. Oh, divine 
goodness, how continued must his tears have flowed ! 


How deep his sighs ! How sustained his fasts ! How 
protracted his vigils ! What food ! What apparel ! What 
a couch ! What an abode ! Oh ! thou dear saint, why 
didst thou keep silent about all these things? Did it 
never occur to thee to mention them ? Yes, indeed, it must 
have been so ! But thou who in thy love and humility 
judgest all thy actions to be so lowly and insignificant, 
although they were great indeed, wouldst have classed 
them as so many childish things and of youth ! 

This holy saint dreads much to tell his affairs, unless 
by so doing he can discover an occasion for humbling 
himself, lest he should be wanting oil for his lamp at the 
coming of the Bridegroom, and he well knows how 
dangerous it is to go forth at the last moment to purchase 
oil from those who sell it so dearly ! 

Such as doubt the difficulty of this period in the life of 
the saint let him find himself in an equal position even for 
a few short days, and he will learn by experience what St. 
Jerome must have gone through at the very beginning of 
his life. 

From the notes left by our saintly doctor in his 
writings, we learn that there was scarcely a town, province, 
or place of importance in France that he had not visited. 
In the epistle he wrote to Geruncia, 1 wherein he deplores 
the havoc caused by the barbarians throughout Gaul, 
that extensive tract which lies between the Alps and the 
Pyrenees from the ocean to the Rhine, and he names very 
accurately each of the provinces. Again, in the epistle he 
wrote to Aedibia and Algasia, noble matrons of France, 
he gives a similar description. What, however, we know 
for certain is that he sojourned many days in the city of 
Treves, where the great Defender of the Faith, Athanasius, 
Bishop of Alexandria, had been exiled not long before. 

1 Epist. 11. 


During these travels the occupations of Jerome were not 
worthless ones, nor his halts made without deriving 
advantage. In those days Treves was a most flourishing 
University, but a few years after our saint left the 
French themselves destroyed it in the time of Honorius ; 
yet at the time we speak of the study of sacred and profane 
letters was carried out so brilliantly that it resembled 
another Athens. And the renown of studies pursued in 
this University dates very far back, for even in the time 
of Maximian and of Diocletian, as we learn from Sigonius x 
that the dlite of France used to resort to Treves ; and 
when Acrisius was sent thither by Pope St. Sylvester and 
the Emperor Constantine, it is known for certain that he 
restored the studies and letters, which had been laid aside, 
to their pristine renown, exchanging, however, pagan and 
profane studies for Christian and Catholic ones. This is 
proved by a writing of the Emperor Gratian, wherein 
mention is made of the Belles-Lettres which flourished in 
that city. 

It was at Treves that our Jerome lingered, for, like 
another Plato, he ever sought in his journeys through the 
world what would best benefit his soul ; and in order that 
the Church of Christ should possess a Jerome, all this was 
necessary ! Among his occupations while at Treves 
was that of transcribing, with his own hand, the Book of 
Synods of the holy Prelate Hilary. The reason for doing 
so was because this work examined and treated upon the 
principal articles of our faith, viz., the mystery of the most 
holy Trinity, and the mystery of the Incarnation of the 
Word, and these points were there so clearly defined by 
the canons and decrees of the councils which had been 
held against Arius and Sabellius, and against the rest 
of the heretics who up to that period had dogmatised and 

1 Carol, sign. lib. I. et 10. De Occident imper. 


withdrawn themselves from the teaching of the Church in 
regard to those two mysteries, that it seemed to Jerome, 
as a prudent student, that it was an affair of the greatest 
importance to fix once for all, and discern with all truth, 
what on these points had been determined by the sacred 
councils, as well as what the ancient fathers and the saints 
had written and commented upon, in regard to these 
mysteries, in order that he might walk securely along the 
path of the sacred Scriptures, not trusting to his own genius, 
nor attempting rash heights in matters of so much subtlety 
and grandeur. 

Jerome makes mention of this good occupation of his 
when writing to Florentius, 1 where he entreats him to send 
him two books, one on the Exposition of the Book of the 
Psalms and the other of the " Synods of St. Hilary," 
which he himself had transcribed with his own hand when 
in Treves, for the saintly aged Paulus. This Paulus was 
a very pious man, with whom he formed a sincere friend- 
ship (for the saints soon learn to know one another), and 
it was on account of this friendship that, some years later, 
he wrote the life of Malchus, a captive monk. 

At that time this city of Treves possessed great relics 
of antiquity, of which, no doubt, our saint had much 
information, for he was very diligent in his researches, and 
neglected no opportunity of learning ; hence it is my 
belief that he derived much knowledge respecting those 
celebrated men of France, who were called Druids, about 
their religion, their doctrine and divine secrets, and 
which are not far removed from those which are professed 
by Christianity, also of their rites, sacrifices, and cere- 
monies, in which some even venture to say there are 
found great sacraments. Perhaps an occasion may 
present itself later on to treat more fully of this matter. 

1 AdFlorent., Epist. 6. 


We have no further light to guide us as to what else he 
did whilst in France. I can, however, at least affirm that 
during these travels he learnt much and advanced greatly 
in the study of letters, and that he returned much benefited 
by the experience he had acquired, the many things he 
had seen, and also from his communications with the 
learned men he had met in all the provinces. 

Under the name of Gaul was then understood what 
is now called Flanders and Lower Germany and other 


St. Jerome returns from France. He seeks Entrance into 
a Profession. Here is declared what it is to enter into 
the Profession of the Church ; and what was the Mon- 
astic State in former Times. 

Jerome, like a solicitous bee of Christ, had gathered 
already the flowers and the liquor for that which was of 
moment for his work, his heart enriched, and his vessel as 
it were filled with all that he had culled from his inter- 
course with learned men. He decided to return to his 
native land, not only to Stridon, his birthplace in the 
order of nature, but also to Rome, where in the order of 
grace he had been re-engendered in Christ. The time 
was approaching when our Lord was going to reveal to the 
world what He had deposited in that illustrious youth, 
and for what lofty things He had destined him. He 
inspired him with the determination to return, so that he 
should put away all the things of the world. He 
maintained a great recollection, pondering always on what 
kind of life he should choose which would be most pleasing 
to his Lord Jesus Christ. And whereas it was his ardent 
wish from his earliest years to serve God, his life and 
conversation all tended to .that end. He would lay 
before Him in prayer this affair, beseeching Him to 
enlighten him concerning an act of so much importance, 



and for this end he performed many exercises of devotion 
and piety. He considered all the different states of 
a Christian life, and being endowed with a lofty mind he 
investigated and examined the objections of each ; yet 
all states of Holy Church appeared to him good and 
saintly, and all tended, though by different paths, to the 
one and same end. In all of them he saw that the flowers 
of piety flourished, and that saints rose up resplendent, 
though on further investigation he did not find in all 
what he sought for the purpose which was nearest his 
heart, and they did not quite fulfil his desires. He 
judged to be holy the state of matrimony, albeit it 
involved according to his mind many obligations and 
a dire servitude, rendering a man subject, as the Apostle 
says, to the tribulations of the flesh, to the demands of 
a wife, and her caprices and whims, his attention 
devoted to the bringing up of his children, a prey to 
cupidity in the affairs of his property, with the object of 
benefiting them, engrossed with the care of his servants 
and family — in a word, divided into a thousand parts, he 
whose desire was to give himself up completely to one 
great affair — the love and service of his God alone. And 
to a free soul, which commences to taste in con- 
templation what it is to find itself delivered from the 
cares and solicitudes of the world, it would be to carry 
many bonds with impatience. Furthermore, the difficulty 
of selecting a companion who would bring some relief 
amid so many difficulties, a thing so rarely found, and 
which, in the opinion of many grave philosophers, like 
Theophrastus and others, is a thing of such difficulty that 
they held it as impossible that these qualifications should 
be united in a marriage bond, or so many conditions found 
in a woman. Our saintly doctor later on touched upon 
these things in many of his Epistles, more especially in 


the first book against Jovinian, 1 where he declares what is 
very much to the purpose. I do not insert it here, in 
order to avoid so many digressions, although to state 
what so great a saint felt on the subject would be very 
desirable, but whoever should require his counsels can 
consult them for himself, and, in truth, he would not find 
anywhere instruction better or more learnedly stated. 

The ecclesiastical state was the one which most 
captivated his soul, but on considering its many degrees 
and characteristics there arose before him a difficulty. 
He beheld many priests and even bishops, who gave 
a very sorry account of their lives and their offices ; he 
feared lest, should he take that path in life, he would be 
dragged along by the current, as so many had been, who, 
having entered religion with right good purposes and had 
begun well, yet their after life and end were wretched. 
Dignities and honours, and offices in the church, in 
addition to the temporal business attached to them, do 
not leave a man so greatly a master of himself as not to 
make him fall many times, for it is a difficult thing to be 
always resisting and struggling against what is ever 
tending to fall, borne down by its very weight. Then, 
with these dignities there arises in proportion vanity, for 
they are a perpetual stimulus to vainglory on account of 
the repute the world holds them in, adoring them either 
for interest or for flattery's sake. It so happens that 
sometimes from this cause a man falls to such a state 
(despite the fact that he may fulfil his office fully) that 
he does not know himself in a few years' time ; and he 
who yesterday was in truth humble and even obscure, on 
seeing that so many pay him honour and abase themselves 
on account of the dignity and the ministry he exercises, 
and on account also of the revenue he enjoys, becomes 

1 Tom. 2, lib. 1, contra Jovin. cap. 28. 


vain and proud, so that he altogether forgets what he 
came from. And behind this door a hundred other 
gates are opened, through which enter in a furious 
troop of vices, which leave him so disfigured and ghastly 
that he remains as though under an evil spell and beside 
himself, without knowing those whom he converses with, 
hateful to God and to men, because the offices and 
ministries which the Holy Spirit has divided throughout 
the body of the Church were not formed in order to puff 
up individuals, despising others, as we are taught by the 
two princes of the Apostles, 1 but to serve their brethren 
according to the rules of our Master Jesus Christ, in 
which He ordains that the greater be as the lesser, forasmuch 
as His school is not like the palaces of the Gentile princes. 
All these things did our saintly youth view with attentive 
gaze, and every moment he was turning away from the 
world and all its affairs, and through these very in- 
vestigations was learning more and more to despise 
the world and to cast himself with greater earnestness 
into the loving arms of Jesus Christ, while the fire of 
the Holy Spirit took firmer possession of his soul. 

Hence, viewing dispassionately and leisurely all things ; 
pondering over them one by one, and weighing the interest 
which might accrue to him in the different states of the 
Church, he found that what more nearly approached his 
ideal, and by which he could the better renounce the world 
and the things of the world, and attain more nearly 
evangelical perfection, as also the surest path (albeit the 
narrowest) by which he could follow in the footsteps of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, was the monastic life. That holy state 
which (in comparison to life in the world which has been 
regenerated and merged in the purity of the Christian 
life) is also called the religious life. This resolution he 

1 2 Peter. 


took firmly, and, without delaying or wavering in his 
purpose, he at once sought to put into execution. From 
that moment he placed himself entirely in the hands of his 
Lord and Master, Who had been bestowing on him from 
his earliest years the principles of that science, which with 
so much reason is called the " science of the saints." Oh, 
blessed is he who from a child becomes accustomed to the 
burden of Thy sweet yoke, O Lord ! For thus dost 
Thou call Thy holy gospels ; and blessed is he who shall 
taste its sweetness, for, as the prophet says, he will rise 
above it, and above all that has a name, for it is there 
Thou makest known to them Thy name which is ineffable, 
and is known but by the one who bears it ! O Lord ! 
it is not in vain that Thou dost sow those fair seeds 
with such anticipation, in the earliest years of the life 
of Thy servants, for in due season they will bud forth into 
comely trees and produce ripe fruits, and the talents Thou 
dost entrust to them will yield vast interests. It was 
therefore the final resolution of Jerome to embrace the 
hard life of a monk and to persevere therein until death ; 
and in this decision ended the well -discussed " council of 

Now I cannot but marvel, at this point, on the cunning 
of the devil, in his ministers. The enemy loses no 
occasion ; he knows how to take advantage of all things 
for his purposes. Who would dare to say, that, at this 
period, there could have entered malice ? And who would 
suppose that from this the devil would have taken occasion 
to combat the various orders of the Church ? 

For one of the most qualified ministers of Satan, 1 
writing the life of this great Father and Doctor of the 
Church, declares that St. Jerome chose the monastic state, 
because such as in those times of the Church most loved 

1 Erasmus in Vita D. Hieron. 



their liberty arid were most free, and enemies of being 
governed by others, lovers of an exterior life, were those 
who cho#e the profession of monks, and declares that 
Jerome, being one of this class of persons, chose this 
state for himself from among all others, because he dearly 
loved his liberty. 

And entitling him Doctor of the Church, this historian 
and searcher of the things of antiquity further adds : 
" And that no one should make a mistake on this point, 
let him know that the monks of that time and the monks 
of the present day are very different ; because, as regards 
the former, their property always remained to them, and 
was secured to those who embraced this state. Moreover, 
they could go out and return again to their monastery, 
when, and how they pleased. They lived comfortably, 
and were free to choose their studies, their fasts, the 
chanting . of the Psalms, prayers, holy vigils, and the rest 
of the spiritual exercises. They were not constrained to 
adopt any one of these good works, but were impelled by 
their own free will, and could take them up or discontinue 
them when they pleased ; because they were not bound by 
those little rules and precepts, which men have since 
invented. Their dress was plain, and of the shape each 
one judged best would suit him, so long as it should not 
be very eccentric or noteworthy, so as not to be pointed 
at by others, but one that should manifest the simplicity 
of a Christian. Such a thing as vows was not thought of, 
nor anything else involved by them. Lastly, should any 
of them repent, or draw back from his resolve and the 
monastic state, there was attached to it no further difficulty, 
nor any penalty, nor did he incur any censure, but the fact 
that he remained with the name of "inconstant." Such 
are the words of this so-called great restorer of the customs 
of the ancient religion. 


Little would the Church have lost had this monster not 
been born, who, instead of restoring the holy customs of 
those times, and the golden age of the Christian religion, 
in which resplendently shone throughout the world the 
purity of the monastic life, misrepresented and calumniated 
it, spreading the harm of the heresies, which since that 
epoch until the present time have been scattered by the 
false children of the Church. If we look into what this 
author has said, we shall find that there is no word without 
malice, and in each one an error is disguised. He denies 
in the first instance the key of the whole regular monastic 
state by withdrawing obedience, and placing in its stead 
free liberty. After this he flings down poverty ; and that 
nought should escape his hands, he altogether denies that 
in those times there were any vows ! He laughs at the 
constitutions and the different modes of life by which those 
are distinguished who agree upon the three vows, essential 
and common, and such as are taken in all religious orders. 
He removes the habit, because even the dress annoys him 
(such was his hatred for the orders) ; and asserts that the 
monks of those times were free, they lived as they willed, 
came in and went out as they pleased, because by these 
means he might take away apostacy and censures, and show 
that the penalty was nothing more than to be held to be 
somewhat light-headed, fond of change, and inconstant. I 
greatly marvel that among the many things, which were 
erased and condemned in the writings of this wicked 
historian and incompetent judge of the ancient religion, 
and of the life of our saint, this passage was not blotted 
out. For I do not think that there is another passage in 
all his works more impious and malicious than this one. 
And the life which he has written of our holy doctor is 
permeated with similarly base ideas. Had Jerome been 
as this wicked author depicts him, he would not have been 


given us by the Holy Roman Church as a mirror of 
sanctity and of learning. 

Now, in order to expose his ignorance and his malice, it 
will be advisable here to declare which are the states in the 
Church ; what it means to choose a state in it, and what state 
of perfection did our Jerome select; whether in those days 
religious perfection was practised by the monks ; what 
were the religious at that time, if they were as he depicts 
them to us, or like those of our days ; what difference 
exists between the former communities and the present 
ones, in order that all should be rightly understood. The 
celestial republic of the Church, which God ordained on 
earth, is a perfect body, having for its head Jesus Christ. 
In like manner the republic of the whole creation has a 
head which is God, by whom all that exists therein was 
created, from whom all things depend and are sustained and 
preserved. And in the same way as in this One God are 
united all perfections, or rather they are all one most simple 
perfection, without any manner or composition of parts ; and 
this One, being so great as It is, cannot be contained in 
any one thing which is a creature, but in the multitude 
and infinity of them all (that is to say, could they be 
infinite) ; and is, as it were, divided among them, yet 
without the whole of them being able to — I will not say 
exhaust, but not even — form any part or proportion with 
all their excellences of that One Divine Perfection, which 
being participated in as Head and Fountain, yet remains 
entire. In the same way the fulness of grace which is 
stored up in the head of the Church, Christ, is divided 
throughout all the various offices, grades, and states of 
this same Church. And this is not accidental or voluntary 
in this body, but as native and essential as are the riches 
and wealth of things, which we see, for the perfection of 
this great body of the universe. This is the philosophy of 


St. Paul which he taught the Ephesians in these words 
(speaking of Christ as coming from God and man), saying, 1 
He gave some apostles and some prophets, and others some 
evangelists, and others some pastors and doctors for the 
perfecting of the saints; to the end that each one 
performing his office, and each rendering good account 
of his works, the edifice of this mystic body of Christ, 
which is the Church, may be perfected. And in the same 
way as in our bodies there are many different members, 
according as the same apostle learnedly puts it to the 
Romans, 2 "and having different gifts given us ... to be 
used, according to the rule of faith" each fulfilling its 
especial function without interfering or usurping the 
position of another, so, too, in the whole body of believers 
being joined together with its head Christ it needs be 
that this body be divided in its offices and grades, without 
the one mingling with the other or introducing itself, or 
usurping that of another, or through pride despising it, 
but each one attending to the part which appertains to him, 
and keeping the code which is given him, in order to fulfil 
his duty perfectly, without confounding the hierarchy and 
order of this celestial arrangement. One of the things 
which more greatly astonished the Queen of Sheba 
and which she admired most in the wisdom of Solomon, 
was the order in which the whole economy of his house 
was arranged, so much so that the sacred scriptures as a 
fact enlarges upon it, declaring that she was amazed and 
delighted beyond measure when she beheld the various 
offices so well apportioned, the good order existing among 
the dignitaries of the court, and the officials so well chosen 
that no voice of dissension was heard, each one acting in 
his own grade and position, so that, despite the great 
number of attendants and functionaries, not only was there 

1 Ephesians iv. n, 12. 2 Romans xii. v. 6. 


no confusion, but there existed a perfect harmony among 

But this man, or those who followed him, did not wish 
to see all this harmony or distinction of members, nor 
even a head, for they all detest it. And this is character- 
istic of the inhabitants of Babylon, citizens of that kingdom 
without order, full of frightful discord. They detest the 
order of the tribes of which David sings, of the house of the 
Lord which goes up in set lines, and with the squadrons 
in order towards the holy city of Jerusalem, so that 
with perpetual praises testimony be given to this One, 
greater than Solomon, Who arranges it. This is the 
foundation, and as it were, the root of the orders in the 
Church ; from this is produced her beauty ; from this 
springs her flowers and fruits, and from this also arises, 
that, on account of her state, she stands intrinsically and 
essentially immovable and firmly placed, because that 
which is easily moved or which we can undo at our whim, 
we do not say of it that it has order, firmness, quietude, 
nor is of any account. From whence the strong argument 
is taken that as to what in the Church is to merit the name of 
order, from its fruits a certain reflective respect is cast upon 
the person itself of man, in so far as it makes him a servant 
of freemen, and invests him with any of these conditions. 

In order fully to understand this in its very foundation, 
we must remember that in things spiritual, such as are 
those of the Church, there are two manners of servitude 
and two kinds also of liberty — viz., the servitude or liberty 
of sin, and the servitude or liberty of justice, as St. Paul 
teaches when he says : " For when you were the servants of 
sin, you were free men to justice. Now being freed from 
sin, we have been made servants of justice . . . and become 
servants of God." x That proneness to sin and slavery of 

1 Romans vi. 18-22. 


the vices, which we notice in men of depraved lives 
because reason is carried captive by the bonds of evil 
habits, is called servitude, and is the servitude of sin ; but 
on the contrary in the good aided by the sweet bonds 
of virtues is found the generous service of justice. And 
he possesses this, who subjects himself, and in lieu of 
servitude he finds a great principality, as David besought 
when in his penitence he shook off the yoke of the first 
servitude and cried out, " Confirm me, O Lord, with the 
spirit of a Prince," 1 because, contemning with generous 
heart the low, mean things of sensual pleasures, he comes 
forth to the full liberty and lordship of the Prince who 
expects the vast inheritance of the kingdom, and this is 
called the liberty of sin. But that lawlessness and 
rashness, by which a man without fear of justice runs on 
in the course of vice as though he had no master, is called 
liberty of justice. Man, in accordance with the natural 
reason with which he has been endowed (and which is his 
noblest part), is really more inclined to what is right and 
just than what is evil and perverse, as being against the 
natural inclination of this higher principle. From this 
arises that the liberty of sin is that which is properly called 
liberty, and it is united lovingly with the subjection which 
this part owes to justice, inclining gently to its service, 
because the natural right of man so demands. 

From whence is seen at once how the terms cross one 
another — that service ^and obedience to the vices means 
liberty of justice, and obedience and service of justice 
implies the liberty of the vices, and the right order in 
which he was created by his Maker ; and, when he does 
not obey the rules of his better nature, he in truth remains 
captive in the bands of sin, taking both the one and the 
other in his own hands and by his own works. From 

1 Psalm 1. 


which it results that as these works do not attain at once 
to the most perfect degree according to their kind, it must 
needs be that they have a beginning, a middle term, and 
an end. 

The beginning belongs to such as commence ; the 
middle term to those who have already passed part of the 
road ; and the end is for such as have attained, the goal, 
called the perfect state, because nothing is wanting to 
them. This is clearly stated by the two Princes of the 
Church in parts of their Epistles ; I merely touch upon 
them in part in our history in order not to lengthen this 
discourse. Let it be therefore established that in the 
state of being free from sin and serving unto justice 
there exist these three grades. 

This may be considered either in respect to what 
passes in man in the secret of the soul in that part which 
only God sees, or in respect to the exterior in this public 
view of the Church in sight of men. In the former (the 
interior secret) God alone is the Judge, and the Holy 
Spirit, who is the Architect of that fabric. Of what passes 
outwardly (although it is the work also and arrangement of 
the same Spirit) the Church is the judge ; because it is 
palpable work, the republic of action and of visible policy, 
of the states and dispositions of His monarchy. 

God judges, and alone knows who in his interior is a 
beginner, or who is perfect, and into this the Church does 
not enter ; but she judges and knows, who is so outwardly. 
From which it is made manifest that for one in the 
Church to be declared in a state of liberty or servitude it 
is necessary to have some visible obligation or absolution ; 
since it is not sufficient reason for one to be declared 
servant, because he serves, or that he should be free 
because he does not serve, for St. Paul says : " I served 
you through spiritual love and charity at times, and which 


should be found among you ; and as to the fugitive servant 
flight does not give him the state of freedom. He 
alone is free who is not bound by a contract of servitude ; 
and that one is a servant who is bound by such a bond 
and obligation. This contract must be made binding and 
solemn, as is customary in all contracts between men, for 
the sake of its firmness and permanency." Hence the 
whole subject is resolved thus — that in order to render it 
a state, and with reason be called so in the Church, there 
must intervene obligation and solemnity. For which 
cause he who, renouncing the world, freeing himself from 
its servitude, takes refuge in the royal vassalage of 
Christian justice, and enters the state of religion, makes 
a contract between God and himself (at least outwardly), 
and with all solemnity binds himself to the laws and 
service of justice in the state he professes. 

This was the course our saint chose. This was what 
he had determined upon in his heart with all earnestness, 
because to determine upon being a monk was to adopt 
truly the state of perfection, desiring to take so arduous 
a path, withdrawing himself from the common high road, 
to follow the narrow one found by the few. Thus 
it adds to the two general points of which I have 
spoken, solemnity and obligation (which include the 
married state and the priesthood), that of perfection, which 
is a different (at least in the outward or visible view 
of the Church) perfection, I say, essential to the state. 
For although priests, by reason of their state, may be 
bound to preserve a very great cleanliness of heart, 
because they receive daily into their breasts One Who 
consumes hearts alone, are not under the obligation as is 
proper to religious entailed by their vows of chastity, 
poverty, and obedience. And if to these we further add, 
solicitude and desire for the good of the brethren, the 


giving up of temporal goods for their necessities, the 
laying down of life for the sheep, it will be to form a state 
of perfection, I will not say of religious, but of prelates 
and pastors of the Church. 

From this is also understood what seems incom- 
prehensible to many that a person may be in a state of 
perfection, yet be very far from being perfect ; and vice 
versa, we may and can be very perfect without being in 
such a state. And this doctrine was practically taught us 
by Christ in the scene depicted to us by the evangelist 
St. Matthew in the parable of the Two Sons. One of 
these told his father he would not go and cultivate the 
vine, yet he went and worked well at it ; the other said he 
would go, but in the end never went, and thus did no 
work. Because if the outward act does not correspond to 
the interior will, it would be an affair of no value \ 
whereas the contrary would be the case, if the interior 
acts on the outward act. A monstrous thing must this 
seem, and even dangerous, nevertheless it is not so when 
properly understood. It is not inferred because a person 
may be in a state of perfection as regards the outward 
form, and yet be not so in the interior, that he is in a bad 
state, or that he is a monster, untruthful or unfaithful. 
St. Paul, assuming in himself this position, comforts 
them by saying : " Not because I have attained the 
height, or should be already perfect ; but I follow, and 
walk on to strive to attain it." Those who bind them- 
selves to the monastic state and to the integrity of their 
profession, do not promise interior perfection, nor could 
they oblige themselves to the impossible by their own 
strength. By two ways are they wanting in the exterior 
perfection which they professed — one by deed, by not 
executing what is demanded by their state : by the 
omission of this they are neither liars nor perfidious, nor 


does it place them in a bad state by reason of the state. 
Another way is the purpose and thought, if they deter- 
mined not to walk in the manner they had promised, 
these St. Paul calls " enemies " of the Cross of Christ ; 
for the instant they fall in thought without doubt are 
in a bad state, and they do not fulfil, like perfidious 
men, what they had with such solemnity promised so 
great a Lord, which was to follow along the path of that 
exterior perfection, as far as their state demands towards 
the interior one. But when, through weakness, want of 
knowledge, or the miseries to which as mortals we are 
surrounded, the fault is due, it does not place us on that 
account in a bad state. To this St. Paul gives the name 
of "human temptation," when admonishing us not to 
allow ourselves to be carried away by any but such as is 
human. Hence, from the moment when the public pro- 
fession and contract is made in the Church (as a sign of 
the interior profession), judgment is made, and we declare 
with truth that he who has made it is in the state of 
perfection. Here the religious must act with great 
circumspection in order that never through a grave 
encounter or fall he should dismiss from his heart the 
purpose of always proceeding on the road, and of deriving 
profit from this state of perfection, which undoubtedly he 
will do and follow so long as this intention does not cease, 
and he follows the path taught him by the holy laws, vows, 
and constitutions, notwithstanding that a thousand times 
he should stumble, and as many times fall. 

This is what appertains to the orders in the Church. 
Through not following this rule did Erasmus utter his 
inventions, and who says that those who were most free 
in those holiest of times became monks, forasmuch as 
this state was one of much liberty! It is thus made clear 
that the contrary to his assertions is the actual fact, and 


we see how Jerome did not embrace this holy state 
with any such base ideas. I would willingly enter into a 
refutation of all that this inventor and other heretics have 
sown broadcast in those times, as well as they do in our 
days, against the monastic state, to whom the name of 
monk was odious, and this refers to every description of 
heretic; for this subject and refutation has been treated 
upon by many pious men with great erudition. But it is 
an affair in which the honour of the universal Church is 
concerned to show the truth and antiquity of the monastic 
state, so loved and cherished by her, because in assuming 
to remove it the heretics pretend to lead us to understand 
that she has been hitherto deceived in what they are 
pleased to call an invention. Let us, therefore, briefly 
explain the antiquity and origin of the monastic state, 
and how in its essential part it has ever been the same 
throughout the ages of the Church. 

I wish in the first place to mention that there is no 
ancient saint, who so clearly and so frequently treats on 
the matter of the vows, especially on the vow of chastity, 
as Jerome did. I have no intention to go so far as to say 
that holy Henoch was the first monk, although there are 
grave doctors who do affirm this, 1 that he invented and 
instituted some particular worship and system of reverence 
for God, as is recorded of him in the Book of Genesis, 2 and 
taught by him in the first ages. Because, although Adam, 
Abel, Seth, and other patriarchs of that first age, of whom 
no mention is made, honoured God and served Him, and 
invoked Him, yet only of Henoch, with the especial 
approval of the Holy Ghost, is it said that he began to 
honour God, and to invoke Him ; and the Hebrew word, 
which is there used not only means to invoke and to call, 
but it also means to call to meeting and congregation, or as 

1 Peter Martyr. 2 Genesis v. 


though we should say into community. Neither do I wish to 
treat of the Nazarites, of whom, according to the Book of 
Numbers, 1 it is stated that they consecrated themselves to 
God ; nor of the sons of the Prophets, who, in the school 
and obedience of Elias and Eliseus, lived without wife or 
property, whereby is clearly illustrated the observance of 
the three vows, and of whom Origen and Jerome say that 
following their example there were many in the Church j 
and when writing to Paulinus, 2 the saintly doctor calls 
them their princes, captains, and guides among the others 
he names. Nor do I wish to bring forward the sons of 
Rechab, 3 of whom Jeremias gives such an illustrious 
memoir, because both Jeremias in his writings and St. 
Jerome in the same epistle depicts them in such wise, that 
would to Heaven we, the monks of these days, were as 
they, although we pride ourselves on being very strict and 
penitential. Yet I might, to come nearer our purpose, 
bring forward in proof of the antiquity of the monastic 
rule him whom all monks with perfect truth call its prince, 
namely, St. John the Baptist — of whom the ancient 
fathers, Basil, the two Gregories of Nazianzen and Nyssa, 
John Chrysostom and many others laud so greatly for this 
purpose, putting aside the high degree which our Lord 
assigned to him, when, in the prophecy spoken by the 
evangelist, He declared him to be above all men "born 
of woman." Our Jerome, too, speaking of the same, 
declares to the virgin Eustochium that the Prince of 
Hermits was St. John the Baptist. Let us, however, 
omit all these ancient Fathers and these first examples of 
the monastic life ; and closing the Old Testament, let us 
open the New, so that none may say " we speak in 
shadows," and let us manifest the new light, which they 
so arrogantly and falsely attribute to themselves. 

1 Numbers vi. 2 Epist. 13. 3 Jeremias xxxv. 


The first whom in good conscience we might allege, 
in order to prove the antiquity of the monks of the New 
Testament, is Philo, who compiled a whole book, entitled 
Vita Supplicum, where in eloquent style, as is his wont, he 
depicts the life of these holy religious, the first saintly 
fruits of the true evangelical life under the discipline and 
rule of the great evangelist St. Mark ; wherein he, more 
clearly than the light of day, sets down three essential 
vows, in addition to other most holy ceremonies ; and our 
saintly doctor from him gathers for his own work on 
Illustrious Men what the Church was in her principles, and 
the decline into which, even in the time of the saint, she 
was falling, and that it was this that the monks aimed at to 
reform and renew. The divine Dionysius, the Areopagite, 
wrote an epistle to Demophilus, the monk, the title of 
which suffices ; but in the sixth chapter of the Ecclesiastical 
Hierarchy he writes so largely and piously the life, pro- 
fession, and order of the monks that it suffices to read 
it to have a summary of the question. I say, therefore, 
that the institutors and founders of this life and monastic 
state were the apostles, as appears by the Acts of the 
Apostles} by which it will be seen that all such as called 
themselves disciples of Christ had nothing of their own, 
all things being common, neither did any one say that 
aught was his own. Yet this was not a thing adopted by 
all, who newly entered the Christian religion, and came into 
the body of the Church, and who were called believers, but 
only such as aspired to follow a narrower and more arduous 
path of perfection, as appears from the fifth chapter of the 
said Acts of the Apostles, where in a detailed manner the 
narrative is given of the punishment which the Holy Ghost 
meted out through the hands of St. Peter to Ananias and 
Sapphira, because, after having commenced this road of 

1 Acts iv. 


perfection, they fraudulently kept back part of the price of 
the lands which they had sold, when it had been in their 
power to be Christians similarly to many others who were 
so, yet retained their lands without taking the vow of 
poverty. For so did St. Peter tell them. 1 That this was 
done under obligation of a vow is affirmed by St. Augustine 
in the books of the City of God? where he says, " This vow 
they had made, and bound themselves to, these most 
powerful ones," and continues to speak of the apostles. 
And that orders and the monastic life had commenced with 
them and from that time, and that with their example 
other orders followed up to the present day, is stated by 
all the Fathers and Doctors of the Church — Eusebius, 
Jerome, Augustine, Isidore, Posidonius, and others, whilst 
John Cassian, who discussed this subject very lucidly, says 
that the cenobitical institution took its rise at the com- 
mencement of the Gospel preaching. That in those times 
there were fixed habits and constitutions is declared to us 
by our doctor, as we shall see in the course of this history 
of his life, and it is well known by such as peruse ecclesi- 
astical histories. Hence, in a brief manner, we have 
made clear who in those times were monks, and that 
the religious of these days are similar as regards the 
essential points, as well as in many of the details of their 
life, and we also perceive that when our glorious Jerome 
resolved to embrace a state in the Church he chose the 
more perfect and strict one of monk. 

I will proceed to quote in proof of this, and in order 
to speak the truth and make it known more clearly what 
the saint himself says of his resolve, and the strength of 
spirit, with which he undertook so arduous a purpose. In 
his epistle against John of Jerusalem he says: 8 — 

1 Acts vi. 4. 2 August., De Civit. lib. 17, c. iv. circa medium. 

3 Ad Parnac. contra Joan. Hicrosolym., Epist. 61. 


" Granted that my brother Paulinian should have been 
ordained by your hand, I say that you must have heard 
from him what he learnt from me, who am but an insigni- 
ficant man, through the saintly Father Paulinus, Bishop of 
Antioch. Peradventure did I beseech you to ordain me ? 
If by you I am made a Priest, do not take from me 
the state of monk, settle that yourself as you desire ; 
but if you mean by ordaining me a Priest to take from 
me that for which I left the world, and your intention be 
that I should deliver myself up altogether to the cure of 
souls for all time, I will thereby lose nothing nor you 
either, because I shall always preserve in my heart that 
which I once for all received for evermore." St. 
Epiphanius also alludes to this very aptly in one of his 
epistles 1 to the self-same John of Jerusalem, where he 
clearly shows us the great humility of Jerome and the 
firmness of his intention. "Perceiving," he says, "that 
in the monastery there were many monks, and that 
the saintly priests Jerome and Vincent, by reason of 
their great humility and self-abasement, did not wish to 
exercise high offices, nor to undertake such a grave charge 
as that of the cure of souls, and the celebration of the 
sacred mysteries, etc." Here in passing we are also 
reproved for our mad temerity and vain confidence in 
casting ourselves, who are deficient of merits and of all 
the qualifications required for exercising such high and 
heavenly offices and ministeries, into the sacred ministry, 
and, what is worse, to seek emoluments and high dignities 
with such heat and by many ways — oftentimes very 
illicitly — an evident sign to me that we neither understand 
the difficulty nor the danger involved. 

Far differently did such as Augustine, Paulinus, 
Jerome, and his brother Paulinian view this great dignity, 

1 Epist. 60, in 2 Tim. 


since in order to make them priests it became necessary 
to force them to accept the dignity, and impose silence 
upon them so that they should not conjure their 
superiors in the name of God, not to place them in such 
high positions. All this we find recorded in this Epistle 
of St. Epiphanius, as well as in many other documents, as 
we shall see farther on, and in the lives of many saints. 

Oh, miserable times of the Church ! How boldly is 
headway made now (for our sins !) for the pinnacle of 
priestly dignities and pontificates, taking as guides for 
such immeasured steps ambition and interest ! I wish 
now to impose silence on language so odious, and bring to 
a conclusion so long a discourse, happy in having demon- 
strated how earnestly our pious youth undertook the 
severe strict state of the monk — and what is meant by 
that state in the Church, and that the monastic state of 
our times and that of former ages were intrinsically one 
and the same, and will always be, please God, so long as 
His Church lasts, despite the gates of Hell. 


St. Jerome declares to his Parents and Friends his Resolution 
of becoming a Monk. Here is stated the Place selected 
for carrying out his Purpose. 

Once the saintly youth had fixed and determined upon the 
new rule and life of perfection he had resolved to follow, 
he at once proceeded to reveal his intentions to his friends 
on his return to Rome, and induce them, if possible, to 
follow him by encouraging them to undertake so high a 
resolve. Among these friends was Bonosus, who, like a 
faithful Achates, had been his devoted companion, as we 
have already said, and with whom he had made his journey 
through France, for they were both united in sentiment 
and as though there existed but one soul between them ; 
their thoughts were alike, and his companionship had 
produced such good fruits that now Jerome's desire 
was to appeal to him with burning words. It must have 
been a source of deep joy to the saintly Bonosus to 
comprehend the lofty aims of his beloved Jerome, whilst 
he, in his turn, manifested to Jerome his own, which were 
no less high, and differed in nothing. Some 1 hold that 
the first to carry out the scheme was Bonosus, but they 
are in error, because it is clearly proved that it was after 
our saint had retired to the desert that Bonosus withdrew 

1 Erasmus in Vita. 


to an island of Dalmatia. This became known to our 
doctor through letters which he actually received whilst in 
the desert, written by Chromatius, Jovinius, and Eusebius, 
by conduct of his friend Evagrius who lived in Antioch. 

In order to judge what were the feelings of our 
saintly doctor regarding this friend so dearly loved by 
him, let us hear what he pens to his later-on inconstant 
friend, Rufinus by name, in a letter sent from the desert. 
" Thy Bonosus and mine is ascending already that 
figurative ladder which Jacob saw in a dream; he carries 
his cross ; he no longer thinketh of the morrow nor of 
yesterday, but goeth sowing in tears, so as to gather in 
joy and plenitude, and, like to another Moses, he raiseth 
aloft the mystic serpent in the desert. Be conquered and 
admit the superior advantage, O ye fabulous marvels and 
dreamed of deeds, couched in the elegant diction of Roman 
and Greek writings ! Come and behold here a youth who 
was brought up among ourselves, and was instructed in 
the strict discipline of the age, possessing abundant 
wealth, whilst few could surpass him in dignity of lineage ; 
and who forsaking mother, brothers, and sisters, went 
forth to live on an island, where the roar of the ocean 
wave is heard continually breaking upon the pebbly shore 
and amid the broken rocks ; in a rough deserted spot, 
alone, in a frightful solitude, he rises up like a new 
inhabitant of Paradise ! 

" You will not find him there with husbandmen to till 
the soil, nor even monks to be his companions, no, not 
even that little servant, the childish Onesimus, whom you 
knew so well, and whom he loved with a brother's love, 
and who might serve him, nor does he have him at his 
side ! There, on this solitary spot, he stands alone, no, I 
will not say alone, but in the company only of Jesus 
Christ. There, he witnesses the glory of God, which, 


unless on the deserted mountain, not even the apostles 
were privileged to see. He does ( not look towards the 
proud cities of men, because he is already admitted to the 
fellowship and enrolment of the New City. Disfigured 
and emaciated are his limbs by the stiff, rough sackcloth 
he wears, yet he will thereby the better sally forth to the 
encounter, and be transfigured with Christ on the heights 
of the cloud. He has no luxuriant gardens, arranged with 
new conduits of water to flow on and fall in cascades and 
shoot up with the object of pleasing the sight, but he 
drinks from the open side of Christ the abundant waters of 

Many other things of equal beauty does this most 
eloquent saint describe to us, manifesting thereby the joys 
and sweetness that he experienced in his solitary life. I 
feel loth to pass them by, but I fear to become too 
lengthy were I to dwell on the erudition and elegance of 
diction of our doctor. All this, however, will necessarily 
be made manifest from the hold his heavenly words and 
counsels effected in the breast of this sincere and saintly 

Jerome informed also Pammachius of his purpose to 
enter the monastic state, and though in genius and in 
learning they were both very similar, and their ideas 
greatly in common, they were not, however, alike in the 
path of life they should follow by embracing the religious 
state. Pammachius desired to marry, which in truth he 
eventually did, and thus each took a different road. In 
Heliodorus Jerome's words found a better hearing, and his 
persuasion produced a greater effect. Hence he offered 
with right goodwill to follow that state which his com- 
panion encouraged him to embrace, although, as we shall 
find farther on, he eventually forsook it after he had dwelt 
in the desert for some time with Jerome, having altered 


his purpose. Jerome likewise communicated to Rufinus 
of Aquileia his resolve of becoming a monk, and to 
Innocentius, Evagrius, and to Hylas, the servant of 
Melania. Nicetas, subdeacon of Aquileia, did not accom- 
pany him on this journey, but after he had been some 
time in the desert established a great friendship with him, 
and became a powerful helper in the designs of the saint. 
To all these friends did Jerome manifest his heart, and 
endeavoured to win them over to join him in his line of 
life. During the course of this history we shall be able to 
state in its proper place what became of each of them. 

There now remained for Jerome to choose the place 
where this devout life was to be followed. After mature 
deliberation on this important question weighing all the 
pros and cons, he deemed that it would not be prudent to 
remain in his own country nor in the adjoining lands, 
because to be in continual communication with kindred 
and friends, and to listen to their affairs and trials, must 
greatly disturb and break upon that recollection and 
quietude which this holy state requires and demands. 
Furthermore, the manners of the people of those countries 
were very barbarous, their lives characterised by the 
vices of gluttony and avarice ; moreover, at the time they 
had for their pastor in spiritual things a priest called 
Lupicinus, of whom Jerome did not approve, and despite 
the fact that he was but a youth, yet he did not like his 
evil habits. 

All this does he say when writing to Eusebius, 
Jovinius, and Chromatius : 1 "In my native land, rude and 
perverse manners prevail, men have for God their belly, 
and they think of nothing but of enjoying themselves and 
passing idly the sunny days, and he is considered most 
holy who possesses most money ; added to this we have 

1 Epist. 18. 


Lupicinus the priest," etc. These reasons were sufficient 
to deter the saint from choosing his country for carrying 
out so lofty an aim of life amid company that was so low. 

How harmful and inconvenient it is for a religious 
to live amid parents and relatives, and thus have con- 
tinually brought before him the joys and sorrows, the 
homes and hearths of loved ones, is learnedly treated upon 
by the heavenly doctor in his Epistle to Rusticus, the 
monk, while experience has also manifested and proved 
its wisdom by many dire examples and sad falls. On the 
other hand, he turned his eyes to Rome, his new country, 
and he was not pleased either with that holy city as the 
chosen spot for his lofty aims in the Christian life, despite 
that they were humble in the eyes of the world. Because, 
although he should hold the holy city as such, and that she 
was enriched by sacred trophies and relics, so empurpled 
by the crimson blood of many martyrs. And witnessed in 
her the pure and sincere confession of the faith of those 
who had sown therein those fair seeds from Heaven sprung 
from that one grain which fell and died on this earth, in 
order that by means of so divine a fruit to cast a blessing 
upon the whole world. Yet, notwithstanding all this, it 
appeared to Jerome far removed from what the monastic 
life should be, thus to dwell amid such a multitude of 
men of varied conditions, nature, and foreign peoples as 
were to be found in Rome. It seemed to him that his life 
there would be far removed from the calm, sweet silence 
which should be cultivated in the secret of the spirit by 
such as desire to practise sanctity and interior justice, as 
the prophet Isaias describes, thus to see and be seen, to visit 
and be visited, from all which results manifestly a number 
of distractions and hindrances which impede the soul from 
seeking God, and desiring to do His holy will before all 
things. I cannot refrain from quoting here the words of 


Jerome himself when, writing to Marcella and inviting her 
to his beloved Bethlehem, he addresses to her respecting 
these things in the following words : " Let us come to the 
town and hostel of Mary — since each one praises his own 
belongings. With what words or in what tongue shall I 
reverence and praise and depict this cave of the Lord, that 
crib wherein the infant Christ wept ? It is better for it to 
be lauded by silence than by words, which must always 
be inadequate." 1 And farther on he adds : " Behold ! for 
in this small cave in the land of Bethlehem was born the 
Maker of Heaven ; it was here that He was wrapped in 
swaddling clothes ; here was He visited by the shepherds ; 
here did the star manifest Him, and here it was that the 
Magi adored Him ! I firmly believe that it is a much 
holier place than the Tower of Tarpeia, for, having been 
many times struck by Heaven with its fire, shows that it 
is not very pleasing to God. I admit that it is there (in 
Rome) that the Holy Church dwells, that it holds the 
trophies and relics of the holy apostles and the martyrs, 
that there the true confession of Christ is made ; it was there 
that the faith was preached by the princes of the Church, 
and on that spot paganism was trampled in the dust. 
Where day by day the name of Christian is being 
raised more and more on high ; but, on the other hand, 
ambition, power, the grandeur of the city, to see and be 
seen, to salute and be saluted, the praises and murmur- 
ings, hearing them and speaking of them, and to be 
moving amid such a concourse of peoples, are all things 
very far removed from the monastic purpose and quietude. 
Because, if we sally forth to see and to speak to those who 
come to visit us, silence is lost, while if we do not go out we 
are held to be proud ; and at times, in order to show ourselves 
polite and well-bred, we go forth to return the visits of 

1 Epist. 18. 


those who have visited us, and thus have to cross their 
superb thresholds and doors, amid gilded colonades, and 
even to pass between lines of gossiping servants and 
slaves. But in this hamlet of Christ, as we said above, 
there is naught else to be found but a holy austerity, where 
the psalms are sung, and when these are ended naught is 
heard, all is silence, and whithersoever you may turn your 
eyes you will perceive that the labourer with his hand 
clenching the plough tills the land singing "Alleluias." 
And in the midst of gathering the harvest the reaper, hot 
and weary from his exertions, arrests his labours to sing 
psalms ; and he who, with hooked knife, is pruning the 
vines is heard hymning something of what David sang. 
This is the native music of this land, this the songs of 
love (as the people say) that rise up at all hours." 

In view of the aforesaid, Jerome took the final resolu- 
tion of withdrawing very far from these landsand seeking a 
habitation which should of itself raise the mind to spiritual 
things, and by its holy memories and dwellers invite to 
that perfection of life which a monk should aspire to. To 
no land in the world did these conditions seem to him 
to apply better than to the one which, by reason of so 
many mercies bestowed and so many favours received 
from heaven, had merited the renowned name of Holy, and 
therefore his final resolve was to make the Holy Land his 

It appeared to our blessed Jerome that for this 
so difficult undertaking it would be well to go pro- 
vided with the necessary arms, and with the aids most 
adapted for his purpose, yet such aids would not be simply 
gold and abundance of silver, nor with a goodly supply of 
so-called necessaries of life such as food, apparel, slaves, 
and servants, but with a large collection of very good 
books, pious, instructive, and treating of highest per- 


fection. Wherefore, he gathered together a large library, 
in order that in those vast solitudes where he purposed to 
end his days these books should be his companions. I 
believe myself that God put this scheme into his soul, and 
that it was His inspiration, because as He was training 
His Jerome to be a light to many monks and a pattern 
for enclosed hermits, and to be a support for the comfort 
of penitents, yet also to be a doctor of the Church — and 
such a doctor! — it was necessary that all his treasures 
should not consist solely of hair shirts, chains, disciplines, 
and pebbles, but that he should possess a good supply 
of sacred books and other good ones in order that, pro- 
ceeding from one exercise to another, from prayer to 
study, from meditation to lessons, from penance and 
mortification to the highest contemplation — like to a cup 
of purest gold which from the crucible and the forge goes 
to the goldsmith's hammer, and from under the graver's 
tool and the file to the fire — he should come forth a 
masterpiece of such exquisite, highly finished work as we 
now behold him in the grand workshop of the Church ! 

These two things — Reading and Prayer — help each 
other most gallantly, because in prayer we speak to God, 
and there we reveal to Him our souls and place in His 
hands our miseries and weaknesses, and beseech Him that 
He should supply our deficiencies, cure, and heal us of our 
sicknesses. While in reading God speaks to us, He tells 
us His secrets, reveals to us His will, manifests to us His 
paths ; thus, by both the one and the other things, the 
soul acquires what it cannot easily attain by any other way 
but by these two means. Hence if, with a pure heart, we 
approach the holy books, we will, without doubt, see in 
them what in truth it behoves us to know ; but, as at most 
times we are carried to them by curiosity, vanity, ambition, 
and by that false thirst for knowledge in order that others 


should know that we are learned, and also to be able to 
stand forward and cause an impression, and the world speak 
of us, therefore, we come out as blind as when we went 
in, and sometimes worse, for even of this divine science 
did the Apostle speak to the Corinthians : " Knowledge 
puffeth up, maketh us vain, and illudes us ; he who is 
puffed up has nothing within but air, and this is the reason 
why most things end in smoke." 

Were we to ask, as did this glorious father and 
doctor, raising our hands to heaven with purity of heart, 
and with tears, the faithful witness of the clean desire of 
the soul, for the light which is wanting to us, we should 
obtain that grace from God, as he drew forth light and 
instruction from the treasury of the holy scriptures, so 
sealed and closed to interpretation owing to the sins of 
men ; there would not happen to us and to so many men 
that seeing we do not perceive, and hearing we do not 
understand, and reading we do not comprehend, for which 
reason does St. John tell us in his Revelations, " He that 
readeth, let him understand." And God Himself, His 
apostles and prophets, have in strong words threatened us 
with the punishments of this blindness and deafness. 

For the love of God let us learn of our saint, and 
listen with him to that holy praise which the royal prophet 
applies to himself, 1 when he says that he had more prudence 
than all his enemies, and that he comprehended more than 
all those who taught him, and knew more than all the 
ancients ; and all this knowledge he attained by looking 
attentively into the law, the precepts, and mandates of the 
Lord. Within three short verses did he inclose all the 
wisdom and science of men, which withstands the craft of 
the enemies, the skill and genius of the masters, or found 
in the lengthened experience of the old men ; and there is 

1 Psalm cxxviii. 


no other means of knowledge. Against these three he 
pits the attentive consideration and the holy study of the 
precepts, the testimonies, and mandates of God, which 
makes him prudent, learned, and wise. It was for this 
end that our doctor made such a costly and careful pro- 
vision of books, which he collected together with so much 
labour, both as regards those he was able himself to obtain 
and which he transcribed by his own hand when he 
sojourned in Gaul, as well as those that by means of 
money, and by the help of his friends, he gathered 
together throughout Italy, and more especially in Rome. 
He dwells on this himself when, writing to Eustochium, he 
says that in the desert he had the library of books which 
in Rome he had gathered together with great diligence 
and labour. He mentions the same library in the Epistle 
to Florentius, where he says as follows i 1 " Do you know 
that, by the favour of Heaven, I have a large assortment of 
good books. Let us lend and ask each other at times for 
anything which you may desire. I will send it to you 
with right good will, without feeling regret in doing what 
you may demand of me." By these words it will be seen 
in passing that our doctor was not miserly, as is generally 
the case with great collectors of books, for, as they wish 
them to adorn their rooms, they grieve, if any of the 
books are wanting, on account of the deficiency it makes 
among the others. Having done this, either in part or on 
the whole, our saint proceeded to inform his parents of his 
purpose, in order to receive from them their blessing on 
this undertaking. I do not know whether he went alone 
or with his companions. Great indeed must have been 
the pleasure felt at his coming and for his visit, but when 
they heard of his determination of becoming a monk, that 
pleasure must have been marred, and sorrow and regret 

1 Epist. 22, cap. 18. 


have entered their hearts ; and although the saint does 
not record the difficult time he had with them on this 
occasion^ it is easy to understand how painful it must have 
been. For who is there but can understand the feelings 
of a parent who, after bringing up his son, and he the 
eldest and the heir, that he should come to such an 
extreme resolution as that of leading a life in the wilder- 
ness ? And what the feelings of the tender mother ? 
Even when the beloved child happens to be the wild and 
troublesome one of the family? Yet what joy must not 
be theirs when they perceive their son return to them 
humble, obedient, discreet, and, above all, saintly ? What 
will the parents of our great father do when they see him 
so determined upon undertaking so rough a life ; and 
moreover, at such a distance, where it would take months 
to reach, encountering great perils of life, and from whence 
it would be only by a miracle that a letter could be received 
from him ; and thus is it explained by the fact that among 
all his epistles there is not one for his mother or for his 
father ? 

Many must have been the pleadings of his parents to 
induce him to alter his resolution. And this opinion of 
mine is clearly defined from the determined words of the 
same holy doctor, which he writes to Heliodorus in the 
eloquent epistle (the first of his works) which he composed 
at the time when the farewells and departure from all 
things was still fresh in his mind, and where, among other 
subjects, he speaks as follows : " Although the baby 
nephew should cling to your neck, and your mother, with 
dishevelled hair, should show you her tender breasts 
whence you drew your nourishment ; and despite that 
your father should cast himself on the threshold of the 
door — pass over him with tearless eyes, and fly to the 
Standard of the Cross, because to be cruel in this passage 


of your life is not cruelty but signal piety." I imagine he 
speaks of himself, because at this time Heliodorus had no 
longer parents living, and therefore he adds farther on : 
" I know not what manacles are those which bind you and 
detain you ; I, myself have not my heart so made of iron, 
nor my interior so strong, nor was I brought up among 
fierce tigers, nevertheless I have passed through as great 
an ordeal myself. Now, perchance, the widowed sister may 
cast her arms around your neck ; now, perhaps, those 
servants who grew up with you in the house may tell you, 
' Alas ! Master ! why are you leaving us ? And whom do 
you leave in your place for us to serve ? ' Perchance the 
aged foster-mother who nursed you, and the venerable 
tutor, who holds the place of a second father, may complain, 
and cry out beseeching you to stay awhile and not leave 
them until you should have buried them ; or your old 
nurse may come to you, and with gentle words speak to 
you the sweet words with which she invited you as a babe 
to her breasts ; in a word, even if the whole house should, 
as it were, fall upon you, easily may you, with love divine 
and the fear of hell before you, break asunder all these 
ties and bonds." Who can fail to perceive in these words 
the vivid picture of what the saint must have passed 
through in regard to his parents, his brothers, his tutor 
and servants ? 

And, forasmuch as it comes to the point here, let us 
see what he says farther on, and how he replies to the argu- 
ments we suspect his father may have made use of. " The 
holy scriptures command that we should obey our parents : 
that is true ; but he who loves them more than Christ 
loses his soul. The enemy stands with uplifted arm, 
knife in hand, to take life from me, and am I to stand 
thinking of the mother's tears? Am I to forsake the 
militia of Christ for my father, when even the precept of 


burying them (which is a precept imposed by our Lord 
Himself and binds me to do), should it be in the way to 
prevent or delay me in following, I am not obliged to keep, 
nor do I owe it to them." From this may be seen how 
fully replied to are the complaints and reasons which 
parents may urge and represent to their children, and in 
order that to none may they be of effect, since they are of 
no value for those who are somewhat enlightened, unless 
it be such as through malice are vested in ignorance, let 
them know that on this point children are under no obliga- 
tion to their parents, save under two conditions — one, that 
they be of age to be able, according to the holy institutions 
of the Church, to be subject to the laws of the state, as has 
been said ; and secondly, that their parents be not placed 
in such need that without the help and succour of their 
children they should be unable to support life, because in 
such a case the natural precept of obedience and paternal 
duty is to be enforced. Beyond these two conditions 
there are no other obligations or rights ; rather, as St. 
Bernard very clearly teaches, " God is the only lawful and 
necessary cause for not obeying parents, since our Lord 
Himself so clearly tells us that he who loveth father or 
mother more than Himself is not worthy of Him." And, 
indeed, greatly should parents rejoice who truly love their 
children when they see them rushing into the arms of the 
universal Father, for it is from Him that we have all that 
we possess, and from individuals and relatives have we 
inherited all that surrounds us of poverty and misery. 
This is that blessing which Moses conferred on the tribe 
of Levi, for by reason that it was consecrated to God had 
no other inheritance on earth but Him, saying, " Levi is 
he who hath said to his father and to his mother, "I do not 
know you, nor have I seen you " ; and to his own brethren, 
" I know you not," and his very children he has not known. 


These, Lord, are they who have kept Thy word and ob- 
served Thy covenant," 1 an express figure of the religious 
and perfect men of the New Testament, who, forgetting 
all things and leaving all, gave themselves up entirely to 
God, and God gave Himself to all of them ; and while 
they approached to Him, bound themselves with strong 
bands and pacts to the service of God. 

I can never cease to admire the grandeur and majesty of 
the holy tongue which merely with the one word of the name 
of Levi expresses all this ; and in itself encloses all that in 
an exact and most finished definition, the philosophers and 
theologians of the world (had they been gathered together) 
could have defined as a state of perfection ; because in 
Hebrew the word "Levi" sounds equal to what in our 
language we should express by " closely to join in a firm 
friendly union," and be in companionship in every treaty 
and affair, and be in all things as " one only thing " ; the 
proper business of those who in all truth could say with 
St. Peter : " Behold, Lord, we have left all things in order 
to follow and cling to Thee." The word and name of 
" Levi " springs from one root and verb which signifies 
to "put out to interest," and to lend to advantage and 
benefit, and in truth it is so, for he who in this way forms 
a company with God and leaves all for His sake, places all 
in a secure guardianship which is so safe that our Lord 
Himself assures him that He will repay an hundred- 
fold. 2 Oh, infinite goodness ! If such a word pledged 
us to an earthly prince, with what haste, and with what 
eagerness, would we not leave everything and go and 
serve him ? But such is the fragile condition of man 
that he sets more credit on the things of the present 
life, and, which generally speaking, deceive and illude 
him, rather than confide in the actual Eternal Truth which 

1 Deuteronomy xxxiii. 8. 2 Matt. xix. 29. 


only demands of him for this exchange faith and hope. 
This then is Levi, he who blessed Moses, he who, in 
truth, hoping and believing, places all his treasure in God, 
and leaves everything, and despoils himself of all things, 
and clings to and unites himself with God alone, and if 
from this solemn agreement he should separate himself, 
he would not be " Levi," but Leviathan which is the name 
of the serpent in whose commerce the only profit that 
is drawn is perdition, mourning, and weeping for ever- 
more. This is what the word " Leviathan " signifies ; and 
therefore God has threatened this ancient serpent by 
Isaias the prophet with the visitation of His sword, hard, 
great, and strong unto destruction, and it is evident that 
those also shall be included, each according to his guilt, 
who have designed to form a company with him in his 
deceits and snares. This knife it was which our doctor 
alluded to when writing to Heliodorus (as we have seen), 
he told him it were madness to listen to the laments of 
father and mother, when the sword of our enemy was 
uplifted over our head. 

And so that we may bring these unjust complaints to 
an end, let us hear what this same Father writes in the 
Epistle De Vitando suspecto Contubernio J in which, among 
other deep and saintly reasons, he says as follows : 
" Should any one reprehend you, being a Christian (he is 
addressing a virgin), that you keep virginity, do not let 
this trouble you ; and if you should be told that you had 
left your mother to enter a monastery in order to live 
among other virgins, let me tell you that these taunts are 
your praise ; because, when in the maiden of the Lord 
there is no fault found in the delight she seeks after, which 
is holiness of life, this is no cruel thing but very great 
piety, because then you do not prefer your own mother, 

1 Epist. 47. 


but He who commands you to prefer to her your own soul 
and life." And it is proper that this should be made 
known to be a holy and pious law, and well observed, 
not only in the time of our saint but also at the commence- 
ment of the Church, and even among the Gentiles pre- 
vious to the knowledge of the true God, as appears in the 
case of the virgins consecrated to the goddess Vesta, when 
from not keeping their vows miserable falls' and misfortunes 
happened, and breakings occurred in these holy virginal 
vases consecrated to God. By which is manifestly seen that 
such delicate vessels cannot be very safe where they are 
liable to meet with many encounters, for at the first blow 
they must immediately receive hurt. But let us pass on. 
Our saintly youth at length, fully determined to carry out 
his holy purpose, encountered all these trials and con- 
tentions with so brave a spirit that he conquered every 
difficulty, and, like a valiant soldier, he encouraged others 
to follow him and join the militia of Christ. He left 
father, mother, country, brethren, relatives, and all the 
luxury and delights of this life, and went forth, full of faith 
and hope, like to another and new Abraham to the place 
God had shown him. He determined to hasten his 
journey and undertake the voyage at once, employing all 
the haste he could, because in these first resolves and holy 
beginnings it is always dangerous to make any delays. 

I am of opinion, judging by good conjectures, that 
Jerome was at the time twenty-three or twenty-four years 
of age ; a happy commencement of his saintly period of 
youth, and from this time forward he begins to reveal to 
us very lofty aims. 



On the first Journey which St. Jerome undertook to the Holy 
Land. The various Places he visited previous to entering 
the Desert. 

The saintly youth left the house of his parents with the 
spirit of a man who had resolved never again to see it 
with his own eyes, and without turning to look back like 
one who takes hold of the plough, so as not to render 
himself unworthy of the kingdom which he proposed to 
win by the sweat of his brow. He left his parents with 
eyes brimming over with tears, as his own were dry. He 
passed over all tender feelings without being turned in 
the slightest degree from his purpose — running to win 
the battle which was to give him the victory. And as 
though he were quitting the captivity of Babylon and the 
power of Pharaoh, and as though he beheld already before 
him the resplendent column which effaced the darkness of 
the night, and the sight of the firstborn of Egypt dead, 
did he leave the comforts of life and, trusting solely to the 
voice of God Who called him, he passes dry-footed the sea, 
and journeys to the desert to offer himself in sacrifice to 
Him, and to receive that holy law which by straight paths 
shall place him in the Promised Land, and lead him to that 

longed-for Sabbath reserved for the happy times of the 



Gospel. With him also departed the aforesaid friends — 
Heliodorus, Vincentius, Rufinus, and Hylas. 

I am not able to state as a fact whether from thence 
he returned to Rome to gather together his library, or 
whether from I stria or Stridon they proceeded to take 
ship on the Adriatic Sea, though I believe the latter to be 
the more probable. 

After sailing out, whether on account of a storm 
which overtook them in the gulf, or from some other 
reason, Rufinus withdrew from their company. This 
fact the saintly doctor himself gives us to understand in 
the Epistle which he wrote to him at Nitria, a city of 
Egypt, where Rufinus was at the time, because having 
been overtaken by the storm or shipwreck, or it might 
have been on the occasion when the merchants were 
going to Alexandria, he was carried along the whole 
of the Mediterranean ocean, passing the Sea of Ausonia 
and the Sea of Crete, and took refuge in the port of 
Alexandria as the saint tells him in this Epistle in the 
following words : * " After that the furious and sudden 
whirlwind which accompanied the storm had wrenched me 
from his side ; after that hurried and sad parting had 
severed the bonds of love and charity 2 by which we were 
united ; that very instant, I beheld the heavens and my 
own head as though enveloped in a black mantle, and in 
the storm-tossed ocean that I was engulfed I saw nought 
else but sea and sky. In a word, in that terrible voyage, 
the vessel was at the mercy of the elements, tossed here 
and there, carried along I know not where, but eventually 
to Thrace, and from thence to Pontus and to Bithynia, and 
after a lengthy circuit called at Galatia and Cappadocia, 
and finally passing the burning sands of Cilicia, exhausted 
by its heat it became imperative to reach Syria like one 

1 Epist. 41. 2 Virg. Mneid. 


who out of a terrible wreck reaches the port." In these 
brief words the saintly doctor has described his voyage, 
a lengthy dangerous journey, carried out of his course by a 
long circuitous route, passing many lands and barbarous 
peoples. And despite that St. Jerome, through wishing 
to describe briefly this voyage, does not mention having 
passed Constantinople, I believe, nevertheless, that he did 
not omit to call at its port, for it was the best route from 
Thrace to pass the Sea of Pontus and thence on to Bithynia 
which is the first province of Asia Minor. He passed on 
subsequently to Galatia and reached the city of Ancyra, 
which was the chief town of that province, and it appears 
he dwelt there for some days, from what he says in that 
most learned preface to the second book of his Commen- 
taries on the Epistle of St. Paul, Ad Galatas, where he 
explains the origin and antiquity of the people of Galatia, 
and in passing, of many other provinces also (of which we 
purpose on some future day to treat). He describes the 
condition and customs of divers peoples, he gathers also 
information from the Epistles themselves of the Apostles 
and from the accounts narrated in the sacred scriptures. 
Thus of the Romans he says that they are firm in the 
faith and have great devotion and piety, furthermore, 
sincerity in obedience, but he also says of them that 
they are easy-going, proud, and arrogant. Of the Corin- 
thians he describes them as somewhat vain, fond of 
personal adornment, curling their hair ; and that the 
women are bold, going about with uncovered heads and 
loving admiration, and vainly gloried in the wisdom of the 
age, going so far as to deny the resurrection of the body. 
The Macedonians he praises as being charitable and 
given to hospitality, with paternal love, but nevertheless 
accuses them of being idle, pleasure -seeking people, 
frequenting each other's houses through idleness and a 


wandering manner, finally he concludes by stating that 
the people of Galatia are barbarian, rude, and allow 
themselves to be easily deceived, and the saint adds : 
" Any one can see that this description of the apostle is a 
most clear fact, as was proved by such as went with me in 
the city of Ancyra, the metropolis of Galatia, because even 
down to the present day the city is rent and divided in 
a thousand ways by the schisms which prevail, and by 
the various dogmas and sects which reign there, a lost 
and devastated capital. I leave aside the Cataphrigae, 
Ophitae, Barboretae, and Manicheans, for all now know 
the sad origin and history of these unfortunate names and 
sects." The words of our saint were attested in the 
Council of Ancyra, which was celebrated about the year of ' 
our Lord 508, in which the principal point treated on was 
against the practice of those who, through fear or violence, 
sacrificed to idols, or who mixed themselves up with the 
Gentiles in their sacrifices. This Council took place 
previous to the Council of Nicaea, and was not a universal 
but a synodal one, and was confirmed in the sixth general 
council celebrated in Constantinople. Of the language of 
the people the saint says at the end of the preface that it 
was not Greek but the same tongue as was spoken in the 
city of Treves, situated in Germany on the banks of the 
Rhine. Whence it is clearly proved that the Galatians 
were people who had come from the north, comprehended 
by the general name of Gauls as all others who had come 
there to populate it, as we shall have occasion to explain 
farther on in our history. 

From thence our saint journeyed on to Cappadocia. 
Later on, leaving the direct road which he had hitherto 
followed, he turned towards the south and came to Cilicia 
through desert paths, because the land of Cappadocia is very 
arid and without rivers, until Mount Tarpeia is reached, 


which divides Cappadocia from the province of Cilicia. 
What constancy ! What fervour of the servant of Jesus 
Christ, and what a yearning to find Him does he not 
manifest by all this arduous undertaking? By crossing 
lands and waters, this traversing of mountains, rivers, 
deserts, towns, this meeting of strange nations and barbar- 
ous races by a youth rich and brought up in all the luxury 
of wealth and position, yet leaving father, mother, and 
brethren, breaks all bonds and undertakes hard trials and 
pilgrimages in order to reach that land and tread the very 
earth which the Son of God had consecrated by His foot- 
steps, seeking Him amid those loving relics and amid the 
actual traces of His precious blood which are left to us. 
The long peregrinations of Abraham and of Jacob with 
right good reason were celebrated in the divine Scriptures, 
yet not so much on account of the great difficulties 
encountered, nor by reason of the enormous distance 
traversed by these holy patriarchs as for the deep mystery 
and sacrament which they enclosed and typified. This 
being, as it were, the first proof of that faith and obedience 
which we owe to God and to His promises ; but if we 
compare these journey ings with those of our glorious father, 
they are small and of lesser difficulty, and the fervour of 
love divine which burned in his breast, the devotion and 
the desire, I dare to say was not less than in respect to the 
first, because to my mind it is no lesser thing for God to 
create in His Church a father and a doctor than to raise a 
patriarch for the faith in the synagogue of the ancient 
people. I leave aside the advantage which the saints of 
the New Testament enjoy above those of the old law, and 
the greater abundance of grace, of gifts and riches of those 
whom Isaias and St. Paul declare, that " neither eye hath 
seen nor ear heard, nor hath it entered in the breast of 
man to conceive what things God has prepared for those 


who follow Him," which is understood not only as regards 
the future life, but of the present golden age of the 
New Testament, which is what our divine Lord implied 
on other occasions, when He gave us to understand 
the grandeur of this glorious state : " Oh how many- 
kings and prophets have desired to see the things that you 
see and have not seen them, and to hear the things that 
you hear and have not heard them ! " Yet even should 
we put aside this consideration, which is so manifest, how 
much greater are the saints of the New Testament than 
those of the Old, looking at them thus point by point, and 
comparing the things of our saint with those of the holy 
fathers, for his peregrinations, his faith, his great charity, 
his ardent desires are not in a single point less than were 
theirs. It may appear to such as judge superficially that 
this journey was an affair of small account ; but to me who 
have experienced what these peregrinations are in reality, 
and what it is to pass across peoples and kingdoms, 
tongues, and barbarian nations, incredulous and furious, will 
perceive what great ardour, what courage and strong deter- 
mination in the service of God are needed to overcome 
so many difficulties as are met with. 

At length the holy man came to Cilicia, and with the 
love of the Apostle St. Paul he tarried some days in the 
province, principally in the city of Tarsus, the native place 
of that " clear trumpet of the Holy Ghost " ; and as he was 
so prudent and observant in all he did, urged by the desire 
of improving himself on every occasion, he took advantage 
of his sojourn there to acquire the idiom of the province, 
the correct mode and phrases of speech, as is clearly mani- 
fested in the Epistle which he wrote to Algasia, where, in 
the 10th question, among other things he says as follows : 1 
" That which we have often said, that which the Apostle 

1 Epist. 151. 


St. Paul declares, 1 albeit not very erudite in the wording, 
but very much so in wisdom, and which he spoke not 
through humility, but because he in truth felt it so, now, I 
myself affirm and approve. Because these deep thoughts 
of his could not be explained by the tongue ; and feeling 
the good and comprehending what he says that he could 
not put them in such exactitude of expression or propriety 
of words to suit the ears of his hearers. In the Hebrew 
language (for after all as a Hebrew himself, and brought 
up at the feet of Gamaliel, a most learned man), he was 
well skilled, but as regards Greek, when he wished to 
declare himself in that language, he is rather obscure. 
And if this occurs in the Greek to one who was born in 
Tarsus of Cilicia, and who studied the language in his early 
years, what shall we say of the Latins, who fatigue them- 
selves translating his sentences word by word only that they 
may leave them more obscure, similarly to the weeds which, 
growing up, choke the fertility of the crops ? Farther on 
he adds : " Many words occur in the apostle's writings which 
are in use in the dialect of his province and of his city." 
He then proceeds to quote some passages, as examples, in 
his Epistle, which we leave aside as unnecessary to the 
purpose of our work, which is to make manifest the dili- 
gence of the saint, and therefore what has been said suffices. 
From all this is seen his great diligence, by which 
the Church later on so greatly profited, and also proves 
that these journeyings and peregrinations were not under- 
taken (as in the case of others) for amusement sake ; but 
were of such importance and advantage and usefulness 
that it is manifest that in all things God was leading him 
by the hand, and as though training and exercising him, 
in order that later on he should yield glorious results for 
the benefit of His Church. 

1 2 Corinth, jd. 6. 


From Tarsus he passed on to Antioch, again traversing 
Mount Taurus. He remained some time in that city, where 
he established a friendship with • the learned and saintly 
priest Evagrius, as appears in the Epistle he wrote to his 
friend Florentius. And while he lingered here he pondered 
on what spot and place he should retire to so as to carry 
out] his purpose of leading the life of a monk and a 
solitary — in what desert, and who should be his com- 
panions, what conveniences he should adopt as best for 
his aim and purpose of life. It so happened, as I gather 
from the Epistle which I shall later on quote, that either 
from the desert of Syria, which is not far distant from 
Antioch, there came some servants of God to this city, or 
else that the holy man himself went there (which seems to 
me more probable), and held a conference with them, 
among others being one called Theodosius. He com- 
municated to them his purpose and determination how 
greatly he desired to follow that rule, and the vow he had 
made, and the longings he had to undertake at once this 
life. Who can doubt that they encouraged him in this 
enterprise, inflaming his heart with the wings of desire 
to fly to that desired nest and greatly-sought- for rest? 
But whereas to the inferior part of the soul there were 
represented to him so vivid and difficult an encounter, and 
the issue of the battle so doubtful, foreseeing as he did the 
trials which were set before him in that desert, he refused 
the contest. And there would be depicted to him such great 
and overwhelming difficulties, similarly as had happened 
to the cowardly explorers of the sons of Israel, in view 
of the inhabitants of the land of promise, who became 
terrified at the bravery and stature of those armed men 
of Canaan and the Philistines, despite he had within his 
breast the valour of a Joshua and of the brave Caleb (the 
one means salvation and the other brave heart, like to a 


lion) ; yet he would not trust to his own powers, but in the 
power of God, and thus he was minded to write a letter to 
those saintly anchorites, full of loving desires, of profound 
sentiments of humility and divine confidence, and addressed 
it to the holy monk Theodosius, in which he expresses 
himself in this wise : " Oh, how I long to find myself in 
your holy congregation and admirable company! And 
although these eyes of mine be not worthy to behold this, 
I will nevertheless embrace this life with all joy and con- 
tentment. I will gaze on that desert with more delight 
than on the most beautiful of cities, and contemplate those 
places bereft of inhabitants, but wherein are gathered 
together, as in a paradise, these companies of saints. But 
as my sins are no doubt the reason whereby I may not 
be allowed to be a participator or enjoy such holy company, 
I beseech of you that by means of your holy prayers (as I 
doubt not you will be able to obtain it), I may be rescued 
from the darkness of the age. In regard to what in your 
presence I had stated already, and in the desire which I 
cease not now to declare to you by letters, my soul and 
my desires are resolved upon to carry out. It now 
devolves on yourselves that the will should be followed by 
the effect. Mine indeed is the wish ; but that I should 
carry out what I desire must be left to your prayers. I 
am nothing else but a weak, infirm sheep, which has strayed 
from the fold, and if the Good Shepherd does not receive 
me and carry me on His shoulders to return me to the 
sheep-fold I must remain in the pitfall, and the more I 
may try to rise all the more my feet will slip and I shall 
go down the lower. I am that prodigal son who has 
wasted the goods and the portion which my Father gave 
me. I have not yet returned to cast myself at His feet, 
nor have I shaken off the remembrance of an easy life, and 
the sensuality of my early days ; and by what it appears I 


have not withdrawn myself from the vices, but only seem 
to wish to do so. Hence the enemy strives to bind me 
down with fresh cords, ever bringing forward new impedi- 
ments, and labours to surround me as by a sea of difficulties 
and confusions in order that on every side I should be 
encircled by the waves, while I, thus placed in the centre 
of this element, can neither turn back nor take a step for- 
ward. Thus it only remains to me, that by means of your 
prayers to awaken in me the breath of the Holy Spirit, so 
that I may bestir myself and move on with efficacy until I 
touch the port and desired shore." 

From this letter can be seen what were the burning 
flames which were shooting from the heart of this saintly 
youth, and from the last words is perceived when he states 
that he cannot turn back, that he had made a vow to 
become a monk. And we also discover what diligence the 
devil must have employed to prevent him from carrying 
out his saintly purposes: Nor was St. Jerome idle during 
his stay at Antioch whilst awaiting the decision to depart 
for the desert, and finish stripping himself of all the impedi- 
ments which still kept him rooted to the world. He 
occupies himself in holy study, and ventured to try his pen 
and genius on a Commentary of the sacred scriptures, 
selecting for his subject the prophet Obadiah. And whereas 
he had acquired the style of the Greek writers, and all 
respecting Origen pleased him, for he was the father of 
allegorical and mystical manner of speech, whom most 
of the current writers of that time imitated, he likewise 
followed his style. This, however, he greatly deplored 
having done, as we shall see farther on, and called it 
ignorance and boyish silliness. 

In order that we should see how well he describes 
this, and what he thinks of this manner of expounding 
the sacred letters, forasmuch as he possessed a very 


excellent doctrine for restraining bold minds who, as soon 
as they learn a few letters, and even without so much as 
learning them, at once attempt to touch the sacred 
scriptures, and in place of expounding and illustrating, 
rather darken and debase them by their Commentaries, 
I wish to quote here some passages from his Proem on 
Obadiah, which he sent to his friend Pammachius, and which 
occur at the commencement. " When I was little," he says, 
" I spoke like a child, I knew things as a boy and thought 
like a boy ; and now that I am a man I put aside all that 
was boyish. Hence if the Apostle goes on improving, 
and day by day forgetting the past, stretches forth 
forward, and, according to the precept of the Saviour, 
placing his hand on the plough does not stop to 
turn back, how much more must I who have not yet 
attained man's perfect state, nor have ' come to the 
measure of the age of Christ,' deserve pardon, if, urged on 
by the ardour and desires of the sacred letters, I in my 
youth dared to explain, in an allegorical sense, the 
prophet Obadiah, of whose words I neither in those days 
understood the letter nor the historic sense ? My soul 
was burning with the pleasure of the spiritual understand- 
ing, and, because I had read that all things are possible 
to him who believes, I did not observe how varied are 
the impulses and gifts of the Holy Ghost. I had a 
knowledge of human letters, and so I thought that I 
could read the sealed book." 

Farther on he adds : " I had thought that what I had 
written was packed away in my presses, and that what my 
genius had with temerity dared to do I had consigned to 
the fire ; but when least I bethought it there came a 
youth from Italy with the actual original which I had 
written so many years back. He praised very much the 
little work, and I confess I greatly marvelled, seeing that 


however foolish one may write there is never wanting 
one of the same humour to read it. He praised the little 
work to the skies while I bent down my head in astonish- 
ment. He set little less than in heaven its mystic sense, 
and I cast my eyes to the ground in shame at my inter- 
pretation. Perchance, think you, albeit I may say this, 
that I condemn those exercises of my youth ? No, 
undoubtedly not. We know that in the Tabernacle of 
the Lord by the side of gold there was also offered the 
hair of goats ; and in the Gospel we read that the two 
little coins of the poor widow were more acceptable 
than the large offerings of the rich ! We gave in those 
days what we had, and now if we have profited some- 
what we will likewise return it to the same owner, 
because by the grace of God I am what I am, for I do 
not deny that for thirty years I have worked in this holy 
exercise and labour." He afterwards adds : " This was in 
the time when my Pammachius, more loved than the light, 
my dear Heliodorus and myself were together engaged in 
trying to be inhabitants of the burnt-up desert of Syria. 
What I had judged secret has been made public. I will 
therefore return to examine the old footprints, and amend 
the badly-formed strokes of my letters. I was a child. I 
knew not how to write, my hand shook, and I did not 
properly set my fingers. However, even should I not 
have derived advantage in aught else, I at least can say 
truly what Socrates learnt — " / know that I do not know." 

Thus do we behold how this saintly youth spent his 
time, and the journey he had made. Now we have him 
on the point of running a match with the old and common 
enemy ; because of the three enemies we may well say 
that as regards the two, viz., the world and the flesh, he 
has treated them badly, for the one he has dragged to the 
ground and the other he has severely punished. Because 


for a youth who has been delicately nurtured, rich, noble, 
prudent, learned, beloved of his parents, and esteemed by 
his relatives, to fling all down under his feet, forgetting 
and despoiling himself so completely of all things, in order 
earnestly to embrace the cross of Christ, and seek the 
science which disillusions and does not puff up, is in truth 
to have done much, for to commence so well is to have 
already more than done half the work. 


Si. Jerome goes to dwell in the Desert. What manner of 
Life he led there. The great Penances he performed. 

In that region of Asia which is called Syria, and, according 
to others, Asisia, but now generally called Suria, there is a 
province, one of the many into which it is divided, which 
goes by the name of Syria-Coele, so called because it is 
situated in a half - crooked circle between the two 
mountains of Libanus and Antilibanus, and which is 
called by Pliny Decapolis. 1 It is also divided into small 
districts ; in one of these, called Chalcidice, is a very 
fertile region, a habitable land, and enjoys a very equable 
climate, neither in winter is the cold very great nor in 
the summer is the heat excessive. Towards the eastern 
part of this province there is an extensive rugged desert 
not habitable for men, being the proper dwelling of wild 
beasts and of serpents, which infest and abound there in 
great numbers. This desert marks the limit and 
boundaries between Palestine and Syria-Coele. To this 
wild region did the brave servants of Jesus Christ fix 
their abode, called and led thither by the secret impulse 
of the Holy Spirit, without fearing it, but rather to the 
contrary, fleeing from the pomp, vanity, and the pleasures 
and comforts of the world, and take refuge in this retired 

1 Strabo, Pliny, Mela. 


sanctuary, considering less dangerous the companionship 
of asps than the company of men. 

Many servants, of God dwelt there, in some little cells 
or huts, but at considerable distance from each other, and 
spread about that desert, fearless of danger, without 
apprehension, forgetful of the world, and attending solely 
to the salvation of their souls ; a source of edification and 
joy to the blessed in heaven, scorning the vanity of the 
children of Adam, and weeping over the follies of sinners. 
Among these holy anchorites of the desert was that 
venerable Theodosius, to whom reference has been made, to 
whom he had addressed his letter; and to him he oftentimes 
gave an account of his designs. Jerome tore himself away 
with his companions Heliodorus, Innocentius, and Hylas, 
severed all bonds which were inconvenient, and with 
resolute spirit proceeded to this roughest of deserts to 
make themselves new inhabitants of it, and to become 
the companions of the wild beasts, while their souls 
enjoyed the fellowship of angels ! 

From hence we commence to look upon a new man, a 
most novel course for a future doctor of the Church to 
adopt, and we shall depict the life of a singular anchorite ; 
and therefore I have somewhat to alter the line of pro- 
ceeding in this history, because up to this stage, in all that 
I have recounted of his affairs, I have contented myself 
with referring simply to his words, in order to make clear 
and verify what I have said. Now in this part I do not wish 
to continue this course, but taking his words and what of 
himself he briefly recounts as my text, and, as it were, the 
foundation, I will make such observations upon them as I 
shall deem proper. And whereas in this part there are 
many noteworthy things which it would be grievous to 
crowd together in one discourse, I will divide them in 
order, according to their kind. 


In the first place, I will treat here on the order of his 
life and his exercises. Secondly, I will declare the strong 
temptations which he suffered, and the contests and 
wrestlings he had with the devil. 

With reference to the first, the holy doctor himself 
tells us many things in divers places in his works ; and 
in the renowned Epistle which he wrote to the virgin 
Eustochium on Virginity, desirous of instructing her as to 
the care she should have in rejecting the thoughts with 
which in the spiritual life the devil always endeavours to 
assail the soul with great force in order to prevent any 
advantage being gained, and also to frighten beginners, he 
expresses himself in this wise — and as these words are a 
very apposite doctrine I quote them : "I do not wish 
you to allow your thoughts to assume proportions. Do 
not allow any one thing of Babylon to gain the mastery 
over you. As regards the enemy, where he shows himself 
of small account you must cut him down ; you must deprive 
him of the malice of his tares to prevent their growth, and 
in the seed he must be stamped out and slain. Listen 
how the Psalmist expresses it : ' Daughter of Babylon ! 
you hapless one ! Blessed is he who should repay you 
for what you gave us, and treat you as you treated us. 
Blessed is he who should take your little ones and dash 
them against the stone.' " * I do not wish here to make any 
other observation, but beseech such as in good earnest have 
commenced to take the journey onwards, and who assume 
to have left the wide road along which so many walk to 
the loss of their souls, in order to enter the door and 
narrow path of life, to take this counsel of St. Jerome very 
much to heart, and by continual diligence examine their 
thoughts, and keep watch lest, if they allow themselves to 
be carried away by them, and as though asleep they do 

1 Epist. 21. 


not watch what is passing within, that which in the begin- 
ning was small, imperfect, and as though of little strength 
like to a babe, in a very short time will grow to be a giant 
in power — then assumes the mastery, takes undivided 
possession, and so thoroughly becomes united to the soul 
that it cannot be borne, and brings forth offspring of 
perdition and of death. From which results that in order 
to wrest the prize from the hands of the evil one no one 
human created weapon suffices, but only can it be done by 
the powerful hand of God." In this advice is comprehended 
nothing less than the loss or gain of the blessed life ; for 
which reason does the Psalmist say : " Blessed will be he 
who shall dash to death her little ones," and the Hebrew 
word which is here interpreted blessed is in the text ex- 
pressed in the plural in this wise — blessings on him who 
shall thus act, because glory is a good enclosing many 
goods together, and all depends upon the beginning, 
which at first sight is as small as is the rejection and 
resistance offered and made against a small thought. The 
saint did not say, neither as a matter of fact does the 
Psalmist say, prevent them, because that is not at present 
in our hand to do ; and thus the saint at once follows, say- 
ing in his Epistle, " It is impossible that in the thought 
and sense it should not touch the native heat of the veins 
and of the sensitive part ; but he shall be praised and 
styled blessed who, as soon as the smallest thought presents 
itself of this, at that very instant he cuts off the head of 
the evil thought, and breaks it on the stone, and the stone 
is Christ." 

So that the virgin Eustochium should have an illustra- 
tion of this doctrine put to the test, the saint himself 
affords her his own example, humbly confessing all that 
he had suffered and experienced in himself, in these words : 
"Oh, how often, when living in the desert, in that ex- 


tensive solitude, which, dried up by the burning rays of the 
sun, offered a frightful dwelling-place to the monks, it 
seemed to me that I was in the midst of the pleasures of 

Here in these brief words the saint has revealed to us 
his abode, bereft of all the comforts which are needed for 
the miserable life of man ! The ground dry and burnt up, 
without a vestige of verdure, no plants, no trees to afford a 
shade from the noonday heat. There were no towering 
cedars, no luxuriant palms, nor stately trees affording fruit, 
pleasing the eye by their beauty, no running waters, no 
refreshing streams to cool the air and afford a soothing 
murmur to the ear, no kind of rest or refreshment, — in a 
word, a desert very much deserted of men. I mean men 
whose desires go no farther than the earth, yet as such even 
do not seek so unfertile a land. Here, indeed, did this great 
man fix his dwelling-place, he who pretends to no one 
thing of earth. Here did that divine youth imprison him- 
self of his own free will, and here did that clear light of 
the Church bury the best and most flourishing days of his 
life, fully resolved upon spending it all here, had Heaven 
not designed otherwise, and brought him forth for the 
good of the world to be its great and most brilliant beacon 
of light. Nevertheless, we might well say that although 
the body was as a fact in so rough a place, yet the soul 
was in the enjoyment of supreme delight ! Oh, divine 
mercy of the Lord ! With what skill and care dost Thou 
chisel the life of the saints ! What colours and what shades 
dost Thou impart to them ! What lights and shadows ! what 
backgrounds far away and what near views dost Thou not 
reveal to us, at once so varied and so beautiful ! Who 
can doubt that in a soul so full of good intentions, so 
full of fervent desires, and practising such vigorous 
penance, that he must have carefully watched over his 


thoughts, and must have kept vigilance such as we have 
signified above? For he adds and declares that despite 
that he dwells in a spot so far removed from every comfort 
and pleasure, yet oftentimes did there rise before his eyes 
the delights and satisfactions found in the society of Rome ! 
What a lively diligence must the enemy have exercised in 
this warfare ! What haste did he not employ to arouse in 
the saint all the species of his fantasy, and represent vividly 
to him in that hidden spot what in other days he had 
witnessed in the world of gaiety ! Hence, he farther on 
affirms that his soul and his heart were full of sadness and 
bitterness ! "I walked about," he says, " and lived alone, 
withdrawn from all, because I was full of bitterness. My 
limbs were cold, fleshless, stark dry with the hair shirt and 
the rough habit. My skin was coarse, blackened from the 
burning rays of the sun, turned into an Ethiopian. My 
eyes continually flooded with tears, for I sighed and 
sobbed without ceasing. If at times I was overcome by 
sleep — against which I offered constant resistance — my 
bed was the bare ground, and my weary bones and limbs 
were racked." Here he has manifested to us his dress, 
and revealed to us what his bed was. He has graphically 
described it all to us, and well indeed was his miserable 
body brought down to the dust. Yet how easily does he 
recount it all ! and how difficult is all this to be carried out ! 
How light all this appears written down, or read about in 
the person of a third individual, yet how almost insupport- 
able does it all become when put into practice. 

I do not say this as regards the very fact, which is 
great and extraordinary, and little less than unapproach- 
able, but it is true even of other and lesser acts, lighter 
and easier to bear, which if we but attempt to practise 
them for the space of a month, or even for a week, it 
appears to us that we can compare them to the greatest 


and the heaviest of mortifications, and have no fear, and 
not even shame to class them among rough and penitential 
acts. To our saint, on the contrary, all seems to him little. 
He himself deems that he does nothing, and is worth 
nothing — this being proper of such as perform great things 
and of great worth. 

Greatly does it come to the purpose in respect to the 
revelation of our great penitent that about living solitary, 
of being clothed in haircloth, and of sleeping on the 
ground and in the dust — those words of the prophet 
Jeremias in his Lamentations : "It is good for a man 
when he hath borne the yoke from his youth. He shall 
sit solitary and hold his peace, because he shall take it 
upon himself. He shall put his mouth in the dust, if so 
be there may be hope." * It seems as though the prophet 
vividly depicts him. Let us see how our own doctor 
declares it himself, for there is no need to seek far into 
the Commentary. " The perfection of a soldier of Christ," 
he says, "is to have his soul despoiled of all affairs of the 
world and of the turmoil of the age. According to what 
the Apostle tells us, No one who stands beneath the standard 
of God entangles himself in the things of the age (and what 
else he adds) ; rather he endeavours, as far as human 
weakness permits him, to unite himself with Christ in all 

" This rule of life, and this manner of procedure, must 
be the endeavour of all good monks to imitate, who by 
vow have bound themselves to the monastic life. But 
this mercy of God and this gift of perfection is rarely 
given, and only to the few ; because that man is truly in 
every part perfect who, whether he be in the desert, or in 
the strictness and hardship of solitude, or in the monastery, 
endures with even spirit the weaknesses of his brethren. 

1 Lament. Jeremias, iii. 27, 28, 29. 


Hence it is a difficult matter to find any one who in both 
professions is perfect, because neither can the solitary so 
easily attain the perfect contempt of all material things, 
nor he who lives the common life the purity of contempla- 
tion. What advantage, nevertheless, exists in the rigour 
of the solitary calm life to that of the busy bustle of the 
age is well known to such as have experienced it." Farther 
on, after commenting on the advantage of the contemplative 
life over the active one, he adds : " Here he puts his mouth 
in the dust, he who, feeling himself lowly, is fully aware 
that he is weak, and that, like a thing that is made of dust, 
confesses that he has to return to dust, saying with the 
patriarch Abraham : / will speak with my God and Lord, 
whereas I am but dust and ashes." Then a little farther he 
says : " To the reprobate and perverse city our Lord 
Himself in the gospel declared that had Tyre and Sidon 
witnessed and seen performed the things that had been 
done in her, without doubt they would have done penance 
in ashes and haircloth. By the haircloth is signified the 
sharpness of sorrow for sin, in ashes the dust of the dead. 
In penance both are joined, because by the pricking of the 
hair-shirt we should be made aware of what by sinning we 
have committed, and in the embers of the ashes we should 
contemplate what we come to by sin. Let us therefore 
ponder, and witness in the hair-shirt the prickings of the 
vices, and in the dying embers of the ashes of death 
let us meditate on the just punishments due to our 
faults. And forasmuch as after the sin there followed 
up the ignominious things of the flesh, let man behold 
in the roughness of hair-shirt what he had committed by 
his haughty pride, and let him see in the ashes to what 
an extreme depth of misery he had fallen by sinning. 
Another signification may also be applied, viz., in the 
hair-shirt we see repentance, reprehension, and the sorrow 


of contrition, according to what Job said : "I myself 
reprehend my own self, for it is nothing less than a sharp 
pricking of the hair-shirt that which passes within my soul, 
rubbing itself with the sharpness of the feeling ; and in 
ashes he does penance, because with wide-open vision he 
observed what had followed from the sentence passed on 
the first crime ; and he cries out, I do penance on embers 
and ashes, which in truth is to say clearly I do not puff 
myself with pride for any gift which I may have received 
from my Maker, because, having been made of dust through 
the penalty I incurred, I find myself returning into that 
very dust again." 

All this is of the saint, and these thoughts were those 
which clad him in the haircloth he speaks of here. These, 
and other similar things which he had in his heart, were 
those which placed him in so rough an abode, which 
rendered his limbs fleshless, and that his emaciated body 
should have no other rest but that afforded him by a bed 
on the hard, bare ground. It is thus that refined penance 
is performed ; it is thus that God is served ; in this way 
do those act who are to be qualified to become such great 
saints as Jerome ; in this way are brought up and trained 
doctors of the Church, and in this way are worked the 
samplers of Christian perfection. Now after having seen 
what his couch, apparel, dwelling, and the exercise of his 
life were, let us see what his food was. Farther on he 
says in the same Epistle : " Of the food and drink I will 
keep silence, forasmuch as the invalid monks drink naught 
but cold water, and it is held a luxury to eat anything 

And therefore, O glorious father, you did not wish to 
tell us what your food was ? You did well, because it 
would either frighten us or it would be incredible ! The 
note suffices for us, and the rhetorical insinuation tells us 


enough. If the sick and the weak lived in this manner, 
what about the strong and those considered robust ? 

A marvellous thing ! above human strength, and 
impossible of imitation, save by the especial assistance 
of heaven ! 

In this Epistle 1 the same doctor tells us he had seen 
three orders of monks in Egypt, some who in their 
language were called Sauses, and in the Latin Cenobitae, 
and in the vernacular men who live in community. Others 
were called Anachoretes, deriving their name from the 
flight, and withdrawing from the conversation of men, 
and living about in the deserts. The third were called 
Rembotes, the lowest grade of monks. These lived in cities 
and towns, a few here and there, two or three together, 
as they listed. They did manual labour for their support, 
and even for profit ; and, as though the art or trade pur- 
sued were in itself holy, and not the life itself, it was to 
be done for a greater price and be of more value than 
what others sold. Putting these aside, the same doctor 
says, " Let us speak of the Cenobitae who live in common." 
He describes their life and holy custom, their obedience, 
humility, charity, and brotherly love which they had one 
towards the other ; and although they led a rough life, 
yet when they were ill, he says, they were moved into 
another larger cell, where they would be so cared for and 
petted by the elder monks that they neither missed the 
comforts of the city nor the blandishments of their 
mothers. According to this description, a far stricter 
life was followed by the monks of the desert of Chalcis 
than by the Egyptians, for even in sickness they were 
not permitted to eat anything cooked. 

In the life of St. Paul, the first hermit, our doctor 
recounts that here in this very desert where he abode 

1 Episl. 22, cap. 15. 


there were found monks practising admirable abstinence ; 
among others he says he saw two, one who had passed 
thirty years in a small cell without eating but a little 
barley bread and drinking a little muddy water, and the 
other lived inside an old cistern, eating during the whole 
day but five figs. This, says the saint, will appear 
impossible to those of little faith, who do not attain to 
grasp the fact that there is nothing impossible to believers. 

From this I infer that, as our monk will not tell us 
what his food and drink was, it must have been something 
similar to what he describes, but that he did not wish to 
frighten the virgin Eustochium, a dainty, wealthy maiden 
at the time, or else so that it should not appear as though 
he were attempting to vaunt his sanctity and abstinence, 
and passes it over in silence, only telling us in a round- 
about way by stating that even the invalid and the weak 
did not touch food that was cooked, and considered among 
them as luxury. Under what class are we to rate our 
daintiness ? With what courage or face shall we dare to 
call ourselves his children, who are so far removed from 
this great abstainer ? And how classify the gluttony of 
the fine things of the world when, not content with what 
is good and reasonable, men strive to force the appetite to 
take the costly banquets which gluttony invents ? 

Nevertheless, Jerome was not brought up less daintily 
than the daintiest of the world, nor can we say that the 
nature of his birth impelled him, because he himself 
condemns this as being vicious, and declares that its 
inhabitants made a god of their bellies. It was the 
strong resolution to work penance that spurred him on, 
and will do so in regard to all such who embrace it in the 
spirit of a Jerome. 

Now that we have seen something of the outward and 
bodily macerations, let us pass on to view the things of 


the interior life. He says, farther on in the same Epistle : 
" But I, who through the fear of hell had condemned 
myself to such a prison, making myself a companion of 
scorpions and of wild beasts, nevertheless often did it 
seem to me that I was in the midst of balls and in the 
society of maidens. The pale countenance induced by 
long fastings, the cold body, and the flesh as it were dead, 
would seem to flush up with burning desires." Oh, what 
a holy confession this of Jerome's, rising from a heart 
perfectly humble ! For without duplicity he publishes his 
weakness and reveals his misery ! For if we consider the 
case well we shall find that the temptation was most 
strong and the encounter with the devil very terrible ; 
and it was by special divine permission that the leave 
which in the case of Job was not granted to the enemy, 
should, in regard to Jerome, be allowed him. 

God said to the Adversary that He should permit him 
to try Job with any trials he might wish ; deprive him of 
his property and of his children ; allow him to be affronted 
by his own wife and scorned by her ; his friends to make 
war to him and contradict him ; to wound him with 
grievous sores from head to foot, but that he should not 
touch his soul. I am well aware that many, following 
Olympiodorus, declare of this passage that it is interpreted 
or understood by soul to be the life, and that God did not 
forbid the enemy in this act anything else but that he 
should not kill him, and the Hebrew word seems to favour 
this interpretation ; nevertheless the exposition of Didymus 
is very good, as it explains that the prohibition of not 
touching his soul implied that he should not be able to 
set before him illusions or phantoms, nor impure or foul 
imaginations. This is a class of very powerful tempta- 
tions, which to overcome with perfection was reserved for 
the law of grace, after the coming of Jesus Christ, and of 


the descent of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men, and 
hence the Lord Himself told the Jews that not one of 
them kept the law which had been given them by Moses, 
of which David sang in the Psalm xviii., "Who can under- 
stand sins ? From my secret ones cleanse me, Lord, and 
I shall be cleansed from the greatest sin," understanding by 
the greatest sin that which the apostle calls body of sin, 
because it includes all, and is like to a poisoned spring, 
which, as soon as the imagination touches it with the 
foul object of covetousness and concupiscence, it at once 
bubbles up, conceives and brings forth sin, and behind it 
the death of the soul ; and forasmuch as the devil is 
powerful for stirring up these species conceived by the 
senses (if permission be given), and represents them to 
the soul, where virtue is weak, he easily wins the victory, 
because in the kingdom of death he is king. 

And whereas all this has its beginning in the soul, 
whilst it exercises the office of animating the inferior part 
by giving it life (which in Hebrew is called nephes), it can 
easily be understood that when God forbade Satan to 
touch the soul of Job, it was that he should neither take 
his life nor set imaginations in the sensitive part. What 
haste he made to exercise St. Jerome in the other tempta- 
tion with which he afflicted holy Job, we shall see as we 
go on. To weary with various illusions, foul representa- 
tions, impure memories the holy soul of our courageous 
and strong monk, is what he here reveals to us, in all 
which he exceeded holy Job. If the remedies he employed 
have been good up to this, and which he has made known 
to us, let those speak who have had some experience of 
similar maladies and of their cures. But the enemy was 
so strong and so constant in the battles, and in the 
assaults he gave the soul so importunate, that they did 
not suffice, and then, as a last resource, he acted as he 


describes to us in these words : " Thus finding myself 
abandoned by all relief, I would cast myself at the feet 
of Jesus, and, bathing them with my tears, would wipe 
them with my hair, and my rebellious flesh I tamed down 
by fasts of whole weeks' duration." 

Two remedies has the holy penitent declared here, 
both of great efficacy ; with the one Magdalen delivered 
herself of seven devils, which is the same as to say of 
many vices, and from the celestial feet of the Master she 
came forth whiter than the snow, according to what David 
sings, for those who are washed by so good a hand exceed 
in whiteness the snow. The other is fasting. He well 
manifests the reason for his silence as to what his food 
was, as we have seen above, because fasts which are 
prolonged for weeks together do not appear to belong 
to the life of men, but are proper only of angels ; and it 
is by means of these that not only the servants of God, 
but even great sinners have attained signal victories over 
their enemies. Upon the verse of Psalm cviii., "My flesh 
is changed for oil" 1 the holy doctor says : " When we fast, 
when our faces turn yellow, when we appear unsightly, 
let us be persuaded in ourselves that then we appear most 
beautiful to Christ. Soldiers who fast are those He desires 
and loves ; let our support and provision be the fast itself. 
And why so? Because in it is victory, and in victory 
triumph ! " Notwithstanding all this, God did not wish 
that it should be of avail to Jerome, nor that with them 
should cease the force of the combat, in order that it 
should be his valour, because it is to brave men that 
God assigns more audacious undertakings, since to them 
He will give larger crowns ; hence it is imperative that 
they should practise and add above the common and 
ordinary acts of virtue other higher exercises. 

1 Caro mea immutata est propter oleum. 


Then he adds : " I am not ashamed in confessing the 
misery of my lot ; rather do I weep because I am not now 
what I was formerly. I call to mind how oftentimes, when 
calling and praying to Heaven, I joined day with night, 
and did not cease to strike my breast until, by command 
of the Lord, my soul would be calmed." After the rough 
habit, after sleeping on the ground and racking his dry 
bones, after the fasts of many weeks, after the abundance 
of tears shed at the feet of Christ, there followed, in the 
exercises of our saint, such lofty prayer, so constant and 
fervent, that it equalled the course of the sun with that of 
the stars, persevering in this prayer night and day, .in 
order that the whole of the heavens and planets should 
be the witnesses of such unusual virtue. This is what 
St. Athanasius dwells upon so urgently, and with reason, in 
the life of St. Anthony, when in the evening he placed 
himself in prayer, his back turned to the west, and he 
persevered thus until the sun, rising in the east, cast its 
rays on his eyes ; meanwhile that the saint himself would 
feelingly complain of the swiftness of the sun's course 
because it disturbed the sweet slumber in which he 
enjoyed God in so lofty a meditation. 

The very same experience does our saint declare he 
had, for oftentimes did he join day to night. And who 
can tell, if God, complying some time or another to the 
pleadings of such men as these, may not have detained 
the course of the sun, so that it should not disturb them 
with its rays, meanwhile that they overcame their enemies 
and gained the victory in so high a combat as is done in 
prayer, since there is no one thing which can so break 
down the force of the adversary as by prayer? And this 
servant of God well knew what an efficacious remedy 
prayer is for all our evils, and, as such, he employed it as 
his continual exercise. This was the principal business 


of his life, his sustenance, his food, and in it there is no 
solitude, no desert — the whole life spent in it is a paradise. 
This is the defensive and the offensive weapon ; with it 
are resisted every encounter, and with it is the enemy 
wounded, and the soul is cured of all pains, and comes 
forth out of all its difficulties, as is briefly declared by the 
same Father when writing to the widow Salvinia. 1 " Never 
let the holy lesson drop from your hands, and let prayer 
be always so continued that all the shafts of the thoughts 
by which youth is generally combated be resisted with 
this shield." And so that prayer be not alone, he tells us 
it was accompanied by fasting, which are two wings with 
which the soul flies. These two assist one another so 
powerfully that there is no class of demons, however 
pertinacious and obstinate, which cannot be cast out by 
them, according to the doctrine of the Saviour, by the 
mouth of St. Matthew. 2 To this he also joined the 
chastisement of the body and the striking of the breast 
with a stone, imitating the Publican, who, although he 
shamefacedly called with these knocks at the doors of divine 
mercy from afar, yet was heard from the distance sooner 
than the Pharisee, who was close by. With the pains of 
his bodily wounds he startled away the softness and the 
delight of the evil thought, which, rising from the 
sensitive part to the rational, was, like a bad serpent 
struck on the head by the stone, and fell to the ground, 
and, as the Psalmist said, broke the little ones of Babylon 
by dashing them on the rock, and, by dint of these blows, 
introduced Christ into his heart, and at His incoming cast 
out all cares and thoughts of this world. 

Hence, with right good reason the man who ponders 
on this cannot but perceive that this saint has been set as 
a sampler before the eyes of all the faithful, and as a 

1 Epist. 9. • 2 Matth. xxvii. 


living example, his picture and image, nude and in the 
desert, striking his breast with the stone, is reproduced 
and presented to us oftener than that of any other saint. 
Because, as he says in the Epistle which I have just 
quoted, 1 the breast is the root and spring of all our evil 
thoughts, and there is the seat of the heart whence are 
conceived, according as our Lord teaches us, the evils 
which render us abhorrent in His presence. And the 
saint goes farther in his description, discovering things 
of his exercises and life, and concludes summing up in 
admirable and extraordinary words : " My little cell, as 
though it were something that knew my thoughts, I 
actually dreaded, and thus I was with myself angry and 
stern, and I would go out alone and wander far into the 
deserts, until I would find some deep valley, some rough 
wood or broken cliff, and there I remained, making it my 
place of prayer and the wretched dwelling for my body. 
I set God as my witness, that after many tears, after 
keeping my eyes fixed on Heaven for a great while, then 
it would seem to me that I found myself in the midst of 
the choir of angels, and then, full of joy and delight, I 
would sing : ' I will run after Thee to the odour of Thy 
ointments. '" A happy ending and a blessed finish to the 
tears, the prayers, and the fastings is this which Jerome 
here reveals to us. O Most Blessed Lord, how well 
dost Thou repay, not only in the future glory, which is 
hoped for, but even here below, at once, what is suffered 
for Thee, and what is done for Thee ! How well dost 
Thou fulfil Thy word, that he who should cleanse his 
heart will see all that he may desire, which is Thou, 
Thyself even in this life, according to what Thou hast 
promised also by Thy prophet, and didst repeat by Thy 
apostle, that neither eye hath seen nor ear heard, nor hast 

1 Epist. 9. 


it entered the heart of man what Thou hast prepared for 
those who seek Thee, obey, love, and desire Thee ! 
What must have been the joy of that saintly soul when it 
saw itself coming forth with such glory out of so many 
difficulties and perils, to witness so many clouds disperse 
at the rising of that sun of splendour which revolves in 
itself, and the agitated ocean of his thoughts calmed 
down placidly entering into the happy port of ecstasy and 
rapture of such extraordinary glory, in company of the 
inhabitants of Heaven, before whom but a few moments 
before he had been abashed and ashamed of his very 
cell ! Let him now declare with the apostle that his 
conversation and dwelling is in the heavens, even so 
while he still walks upon earth. Oh, if it would please 
God, and if we would but dispose ourselves so that we 
might awaken with so sure a succour, and at such a bright 
example, and, viewing ourselves at so clear a mirror, 
would but wash ourselves of the stains which disfigure us, 
and being made clean, we should present ourselves to the 
divine Majesty, before Him Who does not disdain to clean 
and wipe away our tears with His own hand, and in so 
perfect a manner that all grief and sorrow should cease, 
and pain and sadness be eradicated from the very root ! 

But we are like the boys (for thus does St. James 
compare us) who see in the glass the stains that soil their 
faces yet do not trouble themselves to wash them off, 
forgetful of what they had seen, for the lives of the saints 
are nothing else but looking-glasses for us to cleanse our 
own lives. 




To none of the seven ages of man, if I remember 
rightly, did the Gentiles — vain and curious in composing 
fables — give the name of a god or goddess, nor did they 
consecrate a temple nor dedicate to it an altar or grove, 
but to the fourth age, called Youth, to which Homer gives 
the name of Hebe, saying that she was the wife of 
Hercules, which, in our tongue, means Flower of the Age. 
And in this they were logical and reasonable, because it 
is from the twenty-second, or, according to the opinion of 
others, the twenty-fifth year to the fortieth that man is in 
the flower of his age ; all other periods, before or after 
this number of years, always carry with them some im- 
perfection by reason that he has not reached the com- 
pletion, or because he declines from that perfect state. 
Some say that the word youth is derived from the Latin 
Juvo, and from it into Jove, and means to assist or succour 
with joy and contentment, because, when man passes 
through this period, which is like to the Goddess of the 
Ages, he is in a state of joy for himself and for others, 
and it is a time of general contentment ; for it is the 
period when he can assist and give succour, not only to 
his parents and relatives, but to his city, his country, and 
friends, more especially if it be a time of war, because 
this age or period in life is the strongest in man. From 
this arose the custom that when a lad shaved for the first 

' 6 3 


time it was a token that he passed into his youth, and 
this occasion was celebrated among the ancients as a day 
of rejoicing, and sacrifices were offered to the Goddess of 
Youth, and the toga, which they called pretexta, was 
changed into the manly toga. And in the sacred 
Scriptures, whenever the loss of all that is best and 
finest among the people is bewailed, it is declared under 
the metaphor of the young men of the city, fallen, dead, 
or sold, but not wept for, as appears in Isaias, Jeremias, 
and other prophets, because, when that which is most 
strong perishes, there remains nothing else of esteem. 

They also simulated that the goddess Youth served 
and gave the nectar to the other gods, and was to be like 
the cup-bearer of that which, by excellence of beauty, was 
solely served by Ganimedes to Jupiter, for in their theology 
all this has its mystery. To youth they consecrated 
a grove (as Pausanias recounts) in the fields of Corinth, 
and also built a temple, and the goddess had another 
temple in the Circus Maximus, as appears by Titus Livius, 
which enjoyed a pre-eminence above all other temples of 
Rome, for in this one delinquents could take refuge, as 
was formerly done in churches, and if, when released from 
prison, they carried to it their shackles and fetters, and 
hung them upon its walls, they would remain free. We 
shall not be overdoing it if we demonstrate how this 
harmonises with the youth of our saint for having reached 
this flower of the age ; we shall find him doing most 
heroic things, becoming a succour to the Church, a joy to 
the faithful, a help to Christianity, the comfort of penitents, 
and a cup-bearer of heaven, because, by means of the 
sacred languages which we shall see him commencing to 
learn (the Hebrew, Chaldean, and Syrian), he will give 
to drink of the divine nectar of the sacred Scriptures to 
the other gods, the holy doctors of the Church. He will 

PROEM 165 

manifest the growth of his beard, for it sprung early in 
life by dint of the severe penances he practised, and on 
being shaved for the first time will exchange the toga 
stained by the blows of penance for the toga pure and 
manly, the Church will have cause to rejoice and feast. 
He will then be like a privileged temple, where delin- 
quents may resort, and, suspending the fetters of their 
ignorances, quitting the prison-house of evil deeds and 
vices, will be made free. Here shall we see him, already 
wedded to this Hebe (our Jerome like to another Hercules), 
conquer and tame more monsters with his pen than did 
that other old man with his club. 


St. Jerome commences in the Desert the Study of Hebrew. 

The combat did not cease, nor did the enemy of mankind 
offer a truce to our saint. He tempted him by day and 
by night, he wearied him with illusions, false appearances, 
by foul representations, and impure imaginings. The 
diligence of the saint did not suffice, nor the holy means 
he adopted, nor the many victories and crowns he gained 
over the devil deter the enemy from his assaults. Again 
and again he would return to renew the combat, and 
essayed by every means to effect an entrance. But God 
was watching Jerome like to another St. Anthony, and 
He would fling His soldier at the enemy's face, and cry 
out to him, " What now do you think of my servant 
Jerome ? Do you imagine there is any one like to him 
on earth ? " At this Satan's rage would kindle up, and 
renew the temptation by bringing before the saint new 
visions and representing to him such vivid imaginings, 
that he would drive him out of his cell, and as he himself 
has declared, he dared not re-enter it, but would wander 
through the desert striving to efface these images by 
change of place. Wishing to make an end to all this, or 
at least to repress these temptations, or better said, in 
order that God should work out the life of His saint and 
of the Church, by the road He desired to pursue, which is 



that of drawing great good from the evil actions of the 
enemy, God inspired into the mind of His servant Jerome 
the desire which was to fructify and yield great things for 
the whole of the Church. This thought was, that in order 
to dispel these violent temptations from his imagination 
he should occupy himself in the study of the Hebrew 
language, a thing which in the Church had been attempted 
but by the few, such as an Origen and an Eusebius, and 
I know not whether by Epiphanius and Clement. 

And as God knows how to dispose all "hings har- 
moniously, since He is the Lord of all, He afforded him 
in the desert on that very occasion a master to that effect, 
in order that in all things His divine providence should 
clearly be made manifest. 

That the holy doctor commenced this study while yet 
in the desert, and in order to deliver himself from the 
warfare which the enemy waged against him, he himself 
declares, in the Epistle he wrote to Rusticus the monk, in 
the following words : 1 — " Whilst yet a youth, and despite 
that I was enclosed and hidden in the most secret part of 
the desert, I could neither make progress nor withdraw 
from the war which was made against me by the fire of 
vices and the heat of my own nature, which in spite of my 
endeavours to subdue and break by long-continued fasts, 
yet did not suffice, because my very imagination itself had 
caught fire. In order to bridle it, it occurred to me to 
become a pupil of one of the brethren dwelling in the 
desert, who was himself a Hebrew, and had become con- 
verted to the faith. Thus, in order that, after the subtleties 
of Quintilian, the eloquence of Tully, the depths of Fron- 
tonius, and the mellifluousness of Pliny, I might learn the 
Hebrew alphabet, and should be dwelling on the words 
which he pronounced with a kind of gnashing of the teeth, 

1 Epist. 4, ad Rust. 


and as it Were a gasp. What trouble did it all cost me ! 
And how many difficulties did I encounter, and how often 
did I despair of success ! How often did I put it aside, 
and how often did I persistently take it up anew ! All 
this is my soul not only a witness, but also the conscience 
of those who dwelt with me. But I give God thanks, 
because out of the bitter seeds of those letters I cull 
rweet fruits." 

From all this that our saint has said there seems to 
arise some things which require to be struck out, and let 
the first^be-the last. It is true to say that his intention was 
to learn the holy language, in order that by such a saintly 
occupation he might deliver himself from the importunate 
thoughts which the devil sought to put in his mind ; for 
this motive does he discover in these words, because it 
was to this purpose that Rusticus counselled him, in order 
to manifest to him how many were the evils idleness 
causes in the soul ; nevertheless, despite all this, he had 
undoubtedly very high aims in undertaking the study so 
earnestly. Among these, the first and the chief one was 
that which God put in his heart, viz. to work in His Church 
so sovereign a favour as to give her a doctor consum- 
mately learned, and so sound in principle that he should 
not only teach holy dogmas and doctrine like the other 
doctors, but that he should open the original fountain 
whence they had sprung, and draw down drink from 
that source alone without seeking any streams, that is to 
say, translating from the original Hebrew and Greek the 
Old and the New Testament, thus collecting the waters 
without passing through any channels. Such other trans- 
lations as existed at the time in Latin of the sacred 
scriptures, as far as regards the Old Testament, were not 
taken from the Hebrew and done into Latin, but from 
Hebrew into Greek, and then from the Greek into Latin, 


and if any such existed it was not the true and legitimate 
work of a son of the Church. And whereas this question 
of the translations is one of such gravity, and must be 
taken leisurely farther on, for it forms a very principal 
point in the history of our saint, I will say no more re- 
specting the motive and end, but will confirm the fact with 
his own words, found in the twelfth chapter on Jeremias 
addressed to his disciple Eusebius Cremonensis, and which 
are as follows : — " The devil has no common patience 
that I should enjoy the quietude I so desired ; and that I 
should occupy myself with the declaration of the divine 
letters, and that to men who speak my own tongue (that 
is the Latin), I should afford them information of the 
depth and erudition of the Greek and Hebrew letters, but 
by day and by night, in secret and in public, does Satan 
persecute me." 1 The same thing does he affirm in the 
Preface to his Commentaries on Daniel. And when writ- 
ing to Sunia and to Fratella he says as follows : — " In the 
same way as when among the Latins there arises any 
differences in the books of the New Testament, that we 
resort to the fountain of the Greek language, in which the 
New Testament was originally written, for elucidation, so 
also if any difference occurs among the Greeks or Latins 
in respect to the Old Testament, recourse is had to the 
Hebrew text and truth, thus seeking to understand them 
from the streams that come forth from the fountain itself." 
This sentence of our doctor is placed in the Decree, 2 
to which also St. Augustine alludes in his books of the 
Christian doctrine, where he says : " The men of the 
Latin race, for whom we write this, have need of both the 
other languages, Greek and Hebrew, for the knowledge 
of the divine scriptures ; because, if there should arise 
any difficulty from the various translations of the Latin 

1 Proem, lib. iii. De Hier. torn. iv. 2 Dist. 9, cap. Ad Veteres. 


interpreters, let them have recourse to the first texts in 
which they were written." 1 

It also appeared to St. Jerome that the Hebrew 
language was the mother, and as it were the origin, of all 
the other languages. He desired to know them all from 
their origin, and attain to the root of the first, learning it 
with great diligence. That this was also a motive for pur- 
suing the study he declares on expounding the third chapter 
of Sophonias, 2 where he says : " The word Nugas I know- 
ingly left as it was, because it is the same in the Hebrew. 
From this we can understand how the Latin tongue is 
enclosed in the Hebrew, and that the Hebrew is the 
mother of all the languages, but I now cannot declare it." 
When writing to Pope Damasus the interpretation of the 
vision of Isaias, among other things he says : " That the 
Hebrew is the beginning of all languages, and of the Latin 
tongue which we speak, in which said Hebrew the Old 
Testament is written, is taught by all antiquity. Because 
after the sin and offence offered to God in the building 
of the proud Tower of Babel was effected, confusion of 
tongues took place in all nations, and these differences of 
speech were spread throughout the world." 3 

How much truth there is in this which our doctor 
teaches, that the first language of the world had been the 
Hebrew, and that it is the mother of all languages is 
confirmed by common opinion. Moreover, many of the 
Hebrews affirm, and the doctor himself confirms it, that 
Hebrew eventually will be the last language, and the only 
one in the world, as appears in his Commentaries on the 
Second Chapter of Sophonias ; and whereas the digression 
would be too lengthy were we to attempt to prove this 
from his standpoint, we shall leave the question for another 

1 August. 3, De Doctrina Christiana. 
2 Com. in Sophon. cap. 3. 1, 8. 3 Epist. 142, auto medium. 


occasion. And when, farther on, we shall treat of the 
translation which the holy doctor made of the Old Testa- 
ment from the Hebrew into Latin, and the New Testament 
from the Greek into Latin, we shall manifest whether the 
Vulgate translation which the Church uses be the one 
which St. Jerome made in the whole or in part. Likewise, 
we shall also treat of the integrity and purity of the 
Hebrew text, in which the sacred scripture was dictated 
by the Holy Ghost. At present we solely consider the 
motive which the saint had in undertaking the study of 
Hebrew at the cost of so much trouble. And the second 
will be to consider from his own words the difficulty which 
he himself dwells upon when he places his conscience as 
his witness, and that of others, affirming that oftentimes 
would he give it up as though in despair, and at other 
times would renew the study with the determination of 
conquering its difficulty, or because it pleased God he 
should not lay it aside. 

In two things it strikes me the difficulty consisted in 
those days ; because at the present day it is comparatively 
an easy thing, and an affair of few days' work : the first 
was the absence of vowels in writing this language as is 
used in others, because in Hebrew there were never any, 
but only consonants, which is the firm and substantial part 
of diction, leaving the vowels to the good intelligence, the 
fulness and perfection of the educated lip and accustomed 
to the language. And whereas this is such an extra- 
ordinary thing, and so new in all languages, and in those 
times there were no arts or grammars, and all depended 
on the use and custom, it became a most difficult thing to 
overcome, because it depended on a good memory, 
exercise and a carefulness well - nigh continual. Some 
Jews affirm, who have been converted to the faith from 
the synagogues of Africa, in our own times, and with 


whom I have conversed upon this point, that as they have 
not the arts and the grammars which we have, nor indeed 
are these permitted them, it takes many years for them to 
learn the language, and indeed after great labour few ever 
attain to a perfect knowledge. Hence, if to this be added 
not having vowels, or stops, as was the case in the time of 
our saint, it would be almost impossible to acquire it. 
Yet all these difficulties did he conquer, persevering and 
labouring, assisted by his genius and wonderful memory, 
which he in truth possessed to an extreme degree. That 
arts and rules were wanting, and that there were no points 
in place of the vowels in this language in the time of our 
doctor, is most clear. It would suffice as a proof to find 
that although many occasions offered themselves in which 
it appears almost imperative that he should mention it, 
yet he does not do so, nor any one else of those of his 
time who were acquainted with the language. 

There are not wanting authors * of repute who affirm 
that the stops which we see now beneath, or above, or in 
the middle of letters which are consonants, and that are 
there in place of vowels, are as ancient as the Scripture 
itself, indeed have existed since the time when God 
taught it to Moses, or at least from the time of Isaias and 
his disciples, especially of those two who succeeded him, 
called, the one Ben Neptalim and the other Ben Asser, 
who were great scribes in the law. But both the one and 
the other are mistaken, and it is ignorance of history, and 
little erudition and learning. The Jews themselves, by 
common agreement, affirm in their histories that in the year 
436, after Vespasian and Titus his son had destroyed the 
city and the temple of Jerusalem, that it was in the 78th 
year after the birth of Christ our Lord, in the pontificate 

1 Ceballerius apud Genebrad. in proem. Salm. Galatin. lib. I, cap. 8 ; Lilium 
Gregor. Gerald, de poetarum hist. dial. I. Genebra. Cron., lib. 3, p. 251. 


of Pope Simplicius, forty-nine years after St. Peter, and in 
the seventh year of the Empire of Zenon, there was 
gathered together a council of the chiefs of the Jews, who 
had escaped that famous ravage wrought on them in the 
city of Tiberias in Palestine, to which council also 
assisted such as were able from Babylon, and that in this 
council it was ordained that, forasmuch as they were daily 
suffering new trials, and found themselves surrounded by 
great misfortunes, carried to various towns in captivity, 
and even scattered about, thereby losing communications 
with each other, it was imperative that thereby they 
would lose good pronunciation, accent, and the legitimate 
punctuation of the sacred writings, which they had 
learned from their forefathers and masters, Esdras, 
Gamaliel, Joshua, Eleazar, and many others ; it would be 
expedient and necessary for them to set all this down, 
marking out these points in all the future books they 
should write. It was then and there that the stops and 
accents were invented which we now see in the Hebrew 
Bibles without touching the letters, as we shall state 
farther on. The chief of these masters, it is said, were 
Rabbi Aaron, Ben-Asser, Rabbi Jacob, and Ben-Neptalim; 
and it is added, that when between the two they did 
not agree as to the vowel or the accent, they put the 
one version of the lesson in the body and context, and the 
other version on the outside, and some would follow 
the one and others the second one. Thus are we told by 
R. David Kimi on the 60th Psalm, and in this way do 
the various lessons appear at the present time in all 
Hebrew Bibles, with great accordance, although these 
are not by far so many as appear in the Vulgate trans- 
lation. This is the history which is very well known 
to all. At this period our doctor most undoubtedly 
had been dead more than thirty years, and thus was 


unable to avail himself of this punctuation and other 

From all that has been said in passing, we are warned 
not to contemn the various translations of the scriptures, 
and still less the study of the holy language, for the 
saintly doctor concludes, with forcible reasoning, that the 
pregnant words, full and ambiguous of a language, more 
particularly of Hebrew, cannot be explained by a single 
word in another tongue, and that it is well-nigh impossible 
to translate them into another language conveying the 
same depth and fulness of signification of the original, and 
must ever be short of the wide and full sense conveyed in 
Hebrew. And whereas the Holy Ghost chose the Hebrew 
language in order to declare great secrets in one word, 
there is not formed any one single word, as though by 
chance and without a heavenly concord ; and when it is 
translated, one translation expresses one meaning, and 
another translation interprets another meaning, yet all are 
good and of great profit, yet withal, much still remains 
hidden. We would have small difficulty to understand 
this to be as certain as though it were of faith, if we 
consider the words which the Holy Ghost speaks through 
Jesus, son of Sirach, in the Prologue of Ecclesiasticus, 
when, enhancing the difficulty of translating Hebrew even 
into Greek, a language so rich and copious as it is, he 
concludes with this actual sentence : " The words taken 
from the Hebrew remain, as it were, clipped when we 
change them into another tongue." x An infinite number 
of examples might we give to illustrate this sentence of 
our doctor, or better said, of the Holy Ghost. I will, 
however, furnish one or two in order that all may 

1 "Nam deficiunt verba hebraica quando fuerint translata ad alteram linguam in 
prol. Ecclesiast." 


When, in the book of Exodus, God spoke to Moses on 
the manner of sacrifice, and directed how the lamb should 
be eaten on the eve of the day when he was to set them 
free, He said, among other rites, that it should be eaten 
in haste : Et comedetis festinanter. To this word corre- 
sponds one in Hebrew which sounds not only in haste, but 
also expresses astonishment, terror, reverence, admiration. 
And in all these meanings is this word found interpreted 
in other places of the sacred Scriptures ; for instance, as 
when in the Psalm it says : At the voice of Thy thunder 
they shall fear} where in place of the Latin formidabunt 
there stands the actual word in Hebrew of chipazon, and 
when again in the Psalm is said, Ego dixi in excessu meo 
omnis homo mendax. In my excess and contemplation I 
said, " Every man is a liar," there occurs the same word to 
signify excess and admiration. It stands clearly from this, 
that the Holy Ghost placed that word so pregnant in a 
place of great mystery, in order to signify in one word the 
haste we must make to quit the captivity of sin ; and 
because this must be done by means of the passion and 
the sacrifice of the Lamb Jesus Christ, it must be effected 
with much reverence, trembling, and awe. And he who 
considers how deeply the Lord loves us, that He gave 
freely His own Son to redeem the slave, must needs come 
forth out of himself in an ecstasy, raised above his senses, 
and a hundred other marvellous things which are herein 
enclosed, and which cannot be understood by only one 
version which is given, viz. " Thou shalt eat in haste," nor 
by a second one which says " with reverence." 

These are words of St. Jerome wherein he expresses 
how greatly the Hebrew alphabet with its deep significa- 
tion of the letters afforded him matter for contemplation ; 
and he even goes so far as to say that he pondered upon 

1 Ps. ciii. 7. 


them day and night, and thus was fulfilled in him what 
David sings of the good tree, which will bring forth its 
fruit in due season. Thus will be seen the majesty of this 
language, in which tongue God revealed His heart and 
His secrets to men, and which its mere alphabet thus 
could so sweetly entertain so grave a doctor as Jerome, 
that he himself says he could not compare their significa- 
tion to any earthly delight. 

It was with this study and consequent contemplation 
of its holiness and pregnancy that Jerome closed the door 
upon his importunate imaginings, and opened it wide in 
order to behold such great treasures as this study revealed 
to him. It was by this way that he overcame the enemy. 
By these means does he keep his passions in subjection, 
because idleness is a very large gate for the enemy to 
enter in who never loses sight of an occasion or means. 
And to Rusticus, monk, he writes thus : " He who in 
truth considers the divine letters, and loves the science of 
the Scriptures, will certainly not love the vices of the 
flesh ; and he whom the devil always finds engaged in 
some occupation, has small chance of fixing him with vain 
desires and evil intentions. This was the first undertaking 
our saint engaged in during his youthful days. May it 
please God to plant similar desires in our own hearts ; 
because a youth who is occupied in evil things can only 
by a miracle avoid falling miserably." 


St. Jerome suffers many Temptations in the Desert. He 
is punished by God in an extraordinary Vision. 

Although the enemy of the saints finds himself so 
vanquished, yet does he not, in spite of this, mitigate 
his rage ; the rather he tries other methods. At times 
he rests, not because he is tired, but for crafty reasons, 
in order that with relief neglect may arise and watchfulness 
be relaxed. He leaves aside more powerful means, because 
he finds that then he encounters greater resistance ; and 
thus he seeks others which at first sight appear weak and 
of small account, but not for those who are aware of his 
methods. Satan could no longer bear with patience the 
good principles of Jerome ; it seemed to him that a greater 
war was waged thereby than he had judged at first he had 
to fear, and, knowing the foundations, he inferred con- 
clusively that the damage would not be less that he could 
expect than what he had experienced with Paul, Anthony, 
Macarius, Hilary, and Arsenius. He judges, with good 
reason, that those injuries were done, as it were, in passing, 
and a draught drank which was soon over. Here he does 
not see, however, that this one is so easily moved ; rather 
it seems to him that an invincible enemy has risen before 
him who in life and in death he will find very hard to 
overcome. In the first encounter with the temptations of 

177 N 


the flesh he acknowledges himself vanquished, and were he 
to experience the same results in regard to his fasts, his 
watchings, his great penances, the wearing of chains, hair 
shirts, the sleeping on the bare ground, the blows on his 
breast, his tears, prayers, sighs, he would carry him along 
by the common way. But to see himself conquered by a 
youth who stamps out thoroughly the fury of his flames 
with letters, and sacred letters too, this was a bad prog- 
nostic, for this was a novel kind of victory, and con- 
sequently a mortal fall. Then he proceeds to enkindle his 
genius, and seeks a new style of warfare, and thus against 
letters he places letters, and against those that are sacred 
he pits profane ones. Let us investigate the scheme of 
the devil, and we shall see behind it the hand of God. 

St. Jerome had with him in the desert the friends we 
have already mentioned — Heliodorus, Innocentius, and 
Hylas. With these he rested awhile, and sought allevia- 
tion from the strictness of the penitential life he led by 
conversing and communing with them, and giving an 
account of the affairs of his soul, he to them as a father, 
and they to him as his sons. It seems to me that Satan 
must have asked God's permission to tempt the saint in 
so sensitive a part by removing all his companions, some 
by absence, others by death. 

The saint tenderly loved his friends, which is an 
attribute of the saints, because some have been very 
badly hurt on this point. Satan commenced with the 
first of those three above-mentioned, Heliodorus. In 
order to induce him to leave the desert he placed before 
him in a very vivid manner the widowhood of an only 
sister who was very dear to him, and of a baby nephew 
called Nepotianus, whom he tenderly loved. Thus, under 
pretext of protecting them, he resolved to quit the desert, 
without taking heed of the tears of his friend or the burn- 


ing reasons which he urged in order to detain him. At 
length he went. May God deliver us from such a tempta- 
tion taking hold of our hearts ! How many such has the 
devil drawn out under this false pretext from monasteries, 
and how few have ever been delivered from his clutches, 
although Heliodorus happily was one of those released. 
In order to alleviate his sadness, since the bow cannot 
always be on the stretch, nor could he be ever perusing 
such deep things as are the sacred writings, our saint 
would take up Plato, and with his witticisms and clever 
points the devil endeavoured to besmear in such a manner 
the soul, that what was not in appearance so sweet (as the 
sacred letters are not in outward dress) he would begin 
to cast to his face. 

At this period he wrote to the absent and fugitive 
friend a letter, which, albeit very holy, carries its sanctity, 
as it were, clothed in this flowery style, and the saint 
himself confesses it in the Epistle to Nepocene, 1 saying that 
he had employed in it many figures of speech and rhetorical 
colourings. The object of the Epistle was to persuade him 
to return to the desert, and this he does with such 
erudition and wit, so full of loving phrases, such vivacity 
of reasoning, that I believe it has since proved powerful in 
the hearts of many servants of God to induce them to 
leave their homes and cities and proceed to the remotest 
deserts. Thus, although the enemy persuaded Heliodorus 
to leave Jerome, yet this letter gained over to Christ many 
others. No one who peruses it, however tepid he may be, 
but is fired and has fresh fuel put into him of desires for 
leading a better life. In Heliodorus, although no such 
great effect was worked as was expected (because he 
continued with his sister and nephew), yet it served in my 
opinion as a perpetual mirror of his life, for he lived in the 

1 Epist. 1. 


city as in a desert, preserving the practices of the monk 
so closely that through them he merited that his fellow- 
citizens should choose him for their Prelate. The enemy 
continued carrying on his scheme after having gained but 
little by his first engagement, God ordaining all to the ad- 
vantage of His servants and of His Church. Innocentius 
was stricken down by so severe an illness and acute fever 
that in a few days he lost his life, God taking away his soul 
to reward him for his pious and saintly labours. This death 
greatly wounded the heart of Jerome, because he used to 
call him a part of his soul, and such are the true friends 
when friendship has no other object but the love of God. 
The consolation which Jerome found during these trials 
was constant prayer, the common holy exercises, turning 
to Christ, casting himself at the feet of the Saviour, and 
in return the enemy would enter in silently to console him 
by placing in his hands some book of the Gentiles, in order 
that he should take delight in the elegance of diction, and 
sweetly drink in the deceit of his malice, and thus lose the 
taste for what sounded to the ear less eloquent. 

One other companion was yet left to him called Hylas ; 
but this one died not long after from some illness or other, 
and again the wound was opened afresh ere it had been 
well healed. All this does he himself declare in an Epistle 
to Rufinus 1 in these words : " Innocentius, who was part 
of my soul, was taken from me by a sudden access of 
malignant fever. I have only a portion of light with 
Evagrius who, by reason of my own continued ill-health, 
is kept well occupied. In my company I had Hylas, a 
servant of the holy man Melanius, who, by the purity of 
his habits and life, filled the low condition of servant, and 
with his death the wound became renewed which had not 
been as yet closed. Such was the roughness of that place, 

1 Epist. 41. 


such were its many discomforts, the extremes of cold and 
heat so trying, the compensations so few, that naught 
could be expected but sickness and death." Yet the 
saint persevered alone and full of courage, and not satis- 
fied still, the enemy presses him with serious and grave 
illnesses in order that at least thereby he should be forced 
to remit the rigours of penance and put aside his holy 
studies. He himself affirms that there was no class of 
illness which he did not experience in that desert, a thing 
that amazes me, since it is clearly seen that all this was 
done by divine permission, and due to the fury of Satan. 

It is a subject of deep astonishment thus to see a youth 
who had been brought up tenderly and surrounded by 
wealth, set in a desert so rough, so full of discomforts, and, 
moreover, always surrounded and assailed by some form 
or other of pain, fever, distress of mind and sadness, and 
that he should remain so greatly a master of himself, so 
persevering, so determined to end there his life, so fearless 
of death, and always so cheerful that he actually invites 
others to come and enjoy those delights and advantages 
which, to his mind, were unequalled on earth. Some 
depart from him, others are taken by death, he himself 
stretched on the bare ground full of aches and pains, 
nevertheless all these are his glory ; he faints not, nor 
does he desist, nor does he surrender. Great favour was 
needed to bear such dire trials ! God succours him with 
a great increase of grace ; in secret does He solace him, 
because otherwise his life would be impossible to bear. 
Twice in the Epistle I have just quoted does he dwell on 
the multiplicity of his pains, and in particular when, writing 
to the holy virgin Eustochium, he recounts some illness 
he had at the middle of Lent ; and whereas by it is re- 
vealed the whole detail of what we have said, as well as in 
order to narrate the great favour which God employed 


towards him in delivering him from a form of temptation 
so secret and dangerous. It is imperative to recount it in 
his own words. He is exhorting the virgin Eustochium 
not to read books that are profane or worldly, on account 
of the great havoc they cause, without being perceived, in 
the soul, and proceeds, saying : " What connection hath 
light with darkness? What concord hath Christ with 
Belial? 1 What, hath Horace to do with the Psalter? the 
Gospel with Virgil ? Tully with the Apostles ? The 
brethren would be scandalised to see you eat of what is 
sacrificed to the idols, 2 and despite that to the pure all 
things may be pure, 3 and nought should be despised that 
is taken with thanksgiving, nevertheless it is not right that 
we should at the same time drink the chalice of Christ 
together with that of the devils. I wish to give you an 
account of the history of my misfortune and my misery. 
I had now for many years determined upon depriving 
myself, for the kingdom of Heaven, of my home, my 
parents, brothers, and relatives, and what is more difficult, 
the long-accustomed luxury of great and costly viands, on 
departing for Jerusalem to dwell there, but I could not 
part from my library which I had collected together with 
such care and expense in Rome, in such a manner that I, 
poor me, fasted so that I might be able to read Tully, and 
after the long vigils of the night, where I had shed abundant 
tears which the memory of my sins had brought to my 
eyes from the very depths of my heart, I would begin to 
read Plautus, and if perchance seeing my peril, I, full of 
repentance, would read one of the prophets, the crude 
style would seem to mock me, and, as in the case of blind- 
folded eyes, I could not see the light, I judged the fault to 
lie in the sun and not in the blindness." 4 

1 I Cor. x. 30. 2 1 Cor. viii. 10. 

3 T. t. 1. « Epist. 22. 


Up to this point the saint has confessed his temptation 
and the victory by which he would overcome the enemy 
— a humility proper only of a true saint. He adds, then, 
the narrative of the extraordinary course by which God 
delivered him and the great fruit he derived from it, and 
says : " And whilst in this manner the old, crafty serpent 
was thus mocking me, at mid- Lent I was assailed with 
such a burning fever in my bones and marrow, that it took 
possession violently of my body, already weakened and 
exhausted, that without giving me a moment of rest or 
relief, it was consuming my members to an incredible 
degree. To such an extreme depth of weakness was 
I reduced that my bones could scarcely hold together. 
And meanwhile that the necessary preparations were 
being carried out for my approaching burial, and at the 
very moment when the vital heat of the soul had with- 
drawn from all the parts of my body which had already 
grown cold, and could only be felt in a slight degree in 
the heart, I was suddenly ravished in spirit and taken 
before the tribunal of the Judge, where the brightness was 
such and the resplendency which emanated from all those 
who were present was so brilliant, that, casting myself 
down to the ground, I never once dared to raise my eyes. 
I was questioned as to my condition and state. I freely 
replied that I was a Christian. ' You lie,' replied He Who 
presided at that audience. ' You are not a Christian but 
a Ciceronian, for where your treasure is there is your 
heart.' I was dumbfounded at the moment, and between 
the lashes (for I was being lashed by order of the Judge) 
I was more fiercely tormented by the fire of my conscience, 
and in my heart I considered that versicle, ' Lord, who 
shall confess to Thee in hell, or praise Thee ? ' I began to 
call out and to say imploringly, my eyes streaming with 
tears : ' Lord, take pity on me, have mercy on me ! ' Only 


this cry was heard above the noise of the scourging. At 
length those that were present fell down on their knees 
before the Judge, beseeching Him with great instance to 
pardon my fault, alleging that I was but a youth, and to 
give me time to amend the error by penance, and that if 
after this experience I should again take to reading the 
books of the Gentiles, then to punish me with greater 
torments. I, who found myself in such straits, very 
willingly would have promised even greater things ; and 
so I commenced to vow a thousand times and to protest 
and take His holy Name as witness, saying : ' Lord, should 
I from henceforth ever hold before me the books of the 
Gentiles, were I ever again to read them or look at them, 
say that I have denied Thee ! ' And at the very instant 
that I took this oath and made the protestation I was 
released. I returned to myself and opened my eyes. All 
those around me were amazed, and so bathed in tears was 
I from the pain endured, that to any incredulous man 
whatsoever, they would have been a sufficient testimony of 
my trance. That was not, indeed, a transport or vain 
dream of those which at times occur to us and leave us 
mocked. A testimony of the truth of this was that 
tribunal before which I had lain prostrate, and a further 
true testimony, that judgment which inspired me with so 
much fear. Never may it please God that I should find 
myself in such dire straits again. I confess I came out 
with my shoulders well wounded, and I felt the effects of 
the scourging I had had inflicted on me after regaining 
consciousness, and, furthermore, from that moment I read 
the divine words with such diligence and attention as I 
never before had read human letters." 

In respect to this admirable vision — our saintly doctor, 
who in this instance denies it to have been an ordinary 
dream — many have been the malicious who impudently 


have ascribed to it strange things. And in order that 
once and for all we may declare and reply to them, I wish 
to make here a minute answer to all. The first to treat of 
this was Rufinus, who, on perceiving that our holy doctor 
interweaved and quoted verses and sentences of the 
Gentiles with his speech, dared to calumniate him as a man 
who had perjured himself, pointing to him as one who did 
not keep the oath taken, and the promise made, to God 
and before His saints. He styles him sacrilegious and 
perfidious, as may be seen in the places we shall further 
on state, 1 and in such a way does Rufinus take the 
question up, that he imputes to the saint the crime of 
sacrilege. To an opposite extreme do others incline who 
hold this as so palpable a dream, that they laugh at it as 
though it were no more than a thing that is dreamed, and 
scoff at those who take any notice of it. This declaration 
was found in the Commentary on this epistle, written by 
an author who, on other occasions, was in the habit of 
speaking with small reserve and very much malice. 2 I 
would willingly set here his words in order to make 
known the motives, but they have been erased by legi- 
timate censure, hence there is no need to bring his 
daring words to memory. Others again 8 do not only 
scoff at the dream, but also at the cause of it ; they say 
that without reason was he scourged for being Ciceronian, 
because neither his style or language had anything of 
Cicero. Others there are who follow another extreme, 
and have been so alarmed at these scourgings, that they 
held it to be nothing less than sacrilege to read in Cicero 
— or indeed in any- other author — of those which have 
remained to us of antiquity, as though Jerome had sworn 
on behalf also of them ; and these, on witnessing that a 

1 Lib. 1, Apol. in Rufi. c. 7. 2 Eras, in Sco., Epist. 22. 

3 Angelus Politianus. 


book is of great erudition and good diction, flee from it 
lest it should take them to judgment. Hence it appears 
that some make out the saint to be a perjurer because he 
broke his oath ; others that he was a liar or scoffer, who 
sells his dream as though it were true ; others again a 
barbarian, who knows little of Tully ; while others would 
wish to remain in ignorance, and not imitate him lest they 
also should come in for a part of his scourgings. Such is 
the variety and the vanity of the various spirits, since in a 
case so clear and holy they found as many errors as can 
well be imagined. 

If in the saints feelings were admissible, I doubt not 
St. Jerome would feel all this discussion far more than he 
did the scourgings. There was yet wanting to him this 
temptation : since the devil could not make war on him 
with it in life, he at least manifests to him his enmity 
when dead. 

To all these objections let us come forth to meet them 
with solely one quotation of the saint himself, for, if it be 
properly understood, they will all be overcome. Replying 
to the crime imputed to him by Rufinus of not having 
kept what in dreams he had promised, and even vowed to 
do, he says to him as follows : " Oh, I am made a perjurer 
with a mixture of sacrilege, because in the book in which 
I taught the virgin of Christ how to guard virginity, I 
promised, while asleep, before the tribunal of the Judge, 
not to study again secular letters, and that subsequently 
here at times I remembered and repeat what I there con- 
demned. Without doubt this is the Califurnius of which 
Sallust makes mention ; he who, by means of the great 
orator of Rome, sent me a question of small account, to 
which I replied by a short letter. But now let us come to 
the matter we have in hand, and let us reply to the 
objection of the sacrilege and perjury. I declared that 


from henceforth I would not again read secular books. 
This promise was for the future, and I did not bind myself 
by it to forget the past. You will at once rejoin and 
demand, ' How is it that I can remember what for such a 
length of time I had not read ? ' Were I to reply to this 
with something of the said secular books, and should say : 
' This is the effect of what one is accustomed to in early 
years, and with this I contradict you and incur the crime 
of perjury, and with the self-same weapons which I should 
bring forward for my defence, I would be refuted against 
what I defend. The remedy is for us to make a long 
discourse of all, and then the people will admit it to be a 
fact. Which of us is there who does not recall his child- 
hood ? " Then in a skilful and graceful manner he 
proceeds replying to the impertinences and childishness of 
Rufinus, but which, however, is too long a narrative to 
quote, and, moreover, unnecessary. One thing is certain, 
that St. Jerome never called this occurrence a dream ; 
rather he denied it being so in a forcible manner, and calls 
God to witness that it was not so, as he states in the 
Epistle to Eustochium, " A fine manner of sleep this, to 
feel the scourging of the lashes after awaking. May I 
never find myself again in such dire distress. Rufinus, 
who calls it a dream, is ignorant when accusing me of 
sacrilege, for my not fulfilling what he says I vowed to do 
when dreaming." Otherwise let us ask our saint why it 
was he so faithfully and carefully abstained from reading 
these secular books, but because he never held it to have 
been a dream, ever present to him the gravity of the case, 
for he pondered over it in his soul, acknowledging the 
great favour of God who had delivered him in so singular 
a manner from so grave and dangerous a temptation, both 
as to the vain delight which he felt in the perusal of those 
books and in the amount of time he spent over them. 


And what is more serious still, because by their perusal he 
was losing the taste for the sacred Scriptures, towards 
which God was carrying him with the highest aims to the 
great advantage of His Church. 

It only remains to be stated as the ending of this 
discourse (to such as are devout to our saint) what were 
those scourgings, what dream, what rapture was that here 
described, for it is well to know this because it was so 
extraordinary a thing. In the first place, the saint says 
that he was suddenly ravished in spirit, from which it is 
manifest that it was not due to melancholy induced by the 
illness, which being earthly and human possesses the 
properties of earth and compresses the soul in the interior. 
For many persons when in this state believe that they see 
visions, and that they have revelations, when in truth they 
neither see the one nor hear the other, but which are due 
purely to the form of sickness which inwardly fiercely 
agitates and induces fantasies. Nor was it a dream (since 
this does not occur in bodies so exhausted and wasted as 
his, nor in so sudden a manner), but it was a rapture sent 
by God, by the divine virtue of which the soul is raised 
without having the power to resist, nor able to help itself; 
and for this reason is it called rapture, violent ravishment, 
as in the excess or ecstasy that springs from the vehement 
propension to the thing loved. The soul, I say, rises up 
above all its natural conditions, by divine virtue, to know 
and see something supernatural without in the work, the 
understanding taking advantage of any sensitive power, 
it rather remains very abstracted and soaring above it all, 
so that by its lowliness to impede so lofty an operation. 
Hence, there remained in the saint the spirit united to the 
body as in its proper form, yet withdrawn from the 
senses; and there he saw that Majesty, throne, light, and 
Judge by spiritual representation. The scourging, although 


painful, he did not feel with the body and sense of 
feeling which there worked nothing, but with the actual 
apprehension of the soul ; because although, after coming 
to himself, he felt the wounds, as they were not caused 
by a material instrument, but by the spiritual and most 
efficacious ministry of the angels, were not perceived by 
the persons present, nor did the body itself feel the 
punishment until the time when the soul, on returning to 
the use of the senses, these all performed their office, and 
the part hurt was relieved by the blood, and the weals 
began to show, and the wounds were made manifest, then 
resulted the pain, and the tears burst forth. Marvels 
such as these does God perform on behalf of His saints, 
and oftentimes does He raise them and ravish them in 
this manner, either to show them great things, or for their 
correction, or for our example. Well might Jerome from 
this moment acknowledge and claim to himself that he 
was very much a child of God, and of the number of the 
more greatly favoured, because if the Holy Ghost Himself 
declares that He chastises all those He receives as His 
sons, and we clearly see that He does not lead Jerome 
along the path of ordinary chastisements, but that He 
Himself in person comes to correct him, it is a sign and 
prognostic that He is fitting him for great things. Many 
of these marvels are here being revealed to us, and a 
grand field might be shown did the course of this history 
permit it, but what we have said on this point suffices. 


Satan persecutes St. Jerome in the Desert by means of 
Heretics until he forces him to quit it. 

Satan found himself vanquished in all the encounters he 
had had with this holy monk, and that the weapons he 
employed were of no use, for the saint unravelled all his 
wiles and countermined all his engines of war. To the 
evil thoughts and fantasies suggested by him, Jerome 
replied by fasts, vigils, and prayers ; to excessive ardours 
by striking his breast, by sleeping on the bare ground, by 
groans and sighs. If he deprives him of his friends he 
only adheres more firmly to God ; if he inflicts upon him 
grave illnesses and maladies, he doubles his crown by 
exercising patience ; and that when deprived of the solace 
of reading the elegant Books of the Gentiles, he could not 
even then enter into him, because all his readings were 
centred in the Scriptures and in spiritual thoughts. 

Satan burns with rage and is torn with envy ; he fears 
far more the future result than the present loss ; it seemed 
to him that in all this Jerome stands the victor, that he 
will plant a greater school than Anthony did in other 
times ; in his mind's eye he already saw him famous 
everywhere, and the fame of this youth carried swiftly 
through the globe, of this youth who, born of noble 

parents, yet leaves the West and Rome and even his own 



country, learned in the Latin and Greek tongues, and now 
even well advanced in the principles of Hebrew. Already 
an erudite philosopher and in the knowledge of the sacred 
Scriptures learned beyond all the known learned in those 
parts of the East, a youth of great hopes, and above all 
else famous for the sanctity of his life. 

The astute enemy then takes occasion to make 
renewed war. He schemes how to take him out of the 
desert, to deprive him of that solitude and dwelling-place 
and induce him to return to the cities of the world, where 
even when occasions offer, the most experienced become 
lost. In order to succeed in his schemes he entered the 
hearts of those who still remained at that time of the 
heresy of Arius, which were a goodly number, more 
particularly in Antioch, throughout the Province of Cilicia, 
in the city of Tarsus, and in that part called Campas, 
whence the heretics derive the name of Campenses and 
Tarsenses. These followed the sect condemned in the 
first General Council of Nicaea. These heretics had all 
perceived that in the desert a young man of the Latin 
church was dwelling, with whom no one in the Greek 
church could be compared for sanctity and letters. It 
seemed to them that it would be of the greatest 
importance for the present time, and for the future, to 
have him on their side and make him one of their faction. 
Not only did Satan endeavour to do this as regards the 
Campenses and the Tarsenses, but likewise with the 
Prelates of Antioch, so that from both parts war should 
be made on him, thus endeavouring to conclude with 
men's hands what he could not do by his own. 

At that time the Patriarchal Church of Antioch was 
divided with pestilential schisms, having (as Nicephorus 
Callistus refers, and is proved by our doctor) conjointly 
three patriarchs, the first being Paulinus, the second 


Meletius, and the third Vitalis, each of these wanting 
Jerome for himself, feeling confident of easy victory 
against the two other parties should he enlist such aid on 
his part, for such was the authority and the name he 
carried. All these parties were in great haste ; the Prelates, 
so that Jerome should declare which would he decide 
to attach himself to and obey ; the heretics on their side 
urged him to declare himself an Arian. The latter were 
well aware it would be impossible to accomplish this 
suddenly and openly. They approached him by degrees, 
desiring him to acknowledge in God three hypostases. 
Although our holy youth well understood that in confessing 
this there was no difficulty nor danger in reality and in 
the thing, because among learned men hypostases in Greek 
means the same as in Latin, and in common parlance 
persona, yet he would not do so, in order not to concert 
with them even their mode of speaking. That it be the 
same in Greek hypostases as persona in Latin the holy 
fathers of the Greek Church themselves declare. St. 
Basil wrote an Epistle to his brother Gregory of Nyssa 
on this, and tells him that ousia is what the Latins call 
nature and essence or substance ; and what the Greeks 
express by hypostasis is for the Latins the same as suppositus 
or persona. St. Athanasius teaches the same, and St. 
Gregory Nazianzen refers that he was the one who taught 
the Greeks that what to the Latins is persona is hypostasis 
to them, and vice versa, so that neither the one nor the 
other should have any suspicion of the terms. All this the 
saint knew very well, and thus did he understand it and 
declared when he was questioned. Nevertheless, he would 
not employ the same diction as the heretics, nor their 
manner of speaking, because as the same Gregory of 
Nazianzen refers, at that period it had become very odious 
to the Latins the term hypostasis, and with greater reason 


was it odious to St. Jerome, since these heretics set great 
diligence in that they should confess three hypostases. 
From all this haste and the importunate charge they laid 
against him, the saint was inspired to take refuge in the 
safe stronghold of the faith, which is the Roman Church, 
and refer to her Pontiff, who at the time was Damasus, 
a native of Spain, and despite that they had but small 
intercourse with one another, yet Jerome was inspired to 
write to him. The chief points touched upon were to 
ask him instructions whether he should consent, and 
confer, with the heretics declaring three hypostases ; and 
the second as to which of the three Prelates of Antioch 
he was to join and give his obedience. 

He wrote two letters upon this question, both worthy 
of being read, and both very necessary in those times. I 
will transcribe here the most important parts of them. In 
the first he says as follows : " Whereas on account of the 
ancient fury the cities of the East are broken up and 
unhealthy, and the tunic of the Lord without a seam and 
undivided is now divided into parts ; the foxes are destroy- 
ing the vineyards of Christ to such an extent that the 
broken cisterns cannot retain the water, and with great 
difficulty can it be discovered where that sealed fountain 
and the enclosed garden are, I have resolved to take 
refuge as in a true haven in the chair of Peter, and in 
that faith so praised by the apostolic mouth, because in 
her I found, and do find, the food of the soul, where once 
before I had received the tunic and vesture of Christ. 
And I shall not be deterred from seeking this precious 
pearl by reason of the wide sea which stands between, nor 
by the far-distant lands, for where the body is there will 
the eagles be gathered together, and spent out and well 
nigh consumed by the evil generation is the patrimony, 
and it is close to you that is kept pure and in its integrity 


the inheritance of the elders. There, indeed, is the fertile 
land which responds by the hundredfold to the pure seed 
sown by the Lord, because here the grain of good seed 
which is received in the byways, being bad ground, has 
degenerated into wild oats ; now it springs up, and as the 
Sun of Justice rises up in the west and in the east, so also 
like to Lucifer falls he whose pretension was to set his 
chair above the stars of heaven. You are the light of the 
world, you are the salt of the earth, you are the vessels of 
silver and gold. Here the vessels of wood and of clay are 
being consumed and broken by the rod of iron and burned 
by the eternal fire. Despite that your grandeur terrifies 
and appals me, yet, on the other hand, your humanity 
encourages me. As to a priest I ask the sacrifice of 
salvation, and as being a sheep I appeal for succour to the 
shepherd ; let all envy depart, and away with all fulsome- 
ness of ambition and Roman pomp, for with the successor 
of the fisherman and with a disciple of the Cross do I 
speak. I, who do not follow any one before Christ, am 
attached and closely knit to your beatitude, which is to say, 
the Chair of Peter ; upon that stone I know the Church is 
founded, and any one who outside of this house should eat 
of the Lamb is a profaner. Should any one not be inside 
the ark of Noah, meanwhile that the waters of the deluge 
are flooding the earth, let him consider himself as one lost." 
Many things of importance has St. Jerome declared in 
these brief words worthy of being pondered over, but 
history does not permit us the time to do so. Then he 
continues to propose his doubt to Damasus, and adds that 
he does not wish to serve under Vitalis or Meletius or 
Paulinus, because it appears to him that they are neither 
subject to, nor united to, the Roman pontiff. He also 
makes known to him that they are urging him with great 
insistence to confess the three hypostases, and at the end of 


the letter he says : " Well does the word hypostasis declare 
three subsistent persons, and when I say that I also under- 
stand it so, they judge me to be a heretic. Why do 
they weary themselves so much about a word ? What is 
it that they keep hidden beneath this ambiguous term ? 
If they thus believe it, as they declare they do, I do not 
condemn what they feel on the subject ; if I believe it to be 
so, as they dissimulate or pretend they believe, let them 
permit me to declare what they say they feel, in my own 
words. Therefore I humbly beseech your Beatitude for 
the Saviour of the world crucified, and for the essence of 
the Holy Trinity, that you write to me an epistle and give 
me the permission whether to keep silence or to speak, 
in regard to the question of the three hypostases. And 
whereas the seclusion of this remote place in which I live 
might perchance be mistaken, address the messenger to 
Evagrius the presbyter, who is well known to you, with 
the replies. And at the same time do you declare to 
me your will as to which of the three prelates of Antioch 
I am to communicate with, because the Campenses heretics, 
together with those of Tarsus, have no deeper scheme than 
with your authority, and with the confidence that they are 
in union with you, to preach the three hypostases in the 
ancient sense." 

St. Jerome here styles the ancient sense not that which 
was given in the Nicene Council, but that of the Arians. 
That expression which the holy doctor employs of com- 
municating is an ancient ceremony, used in those times 
in the Church. When there were partialities and divisions, 
those who followed one class and confessed one same 
thing, after having received the holy Eucharist, had some 
sign or countersign * by which they were known and com- 

1 Tessera= sign or countersign; a cubical piece of wood or bone used by the 


municated. Thus does Innocent I. declare it, and he 
states that it was usual in Rome to send a small quantity 
of unleavened bread throughout the parishes, which was 
the sign or symbol. This is the origin of the use of 
blessed bread, which, even at the present day, is distributed 
to the faithful on Sundays, and which they carry home ; 
hence the term employed of communicating, and also of 
the custom which I believe is as ancient as the commence- 
ment of the Church. The same thing does St. Paul express 
in the first epistle to the Corinthians, 1 when, under the 
expression of communicating in the bread and in the 
chalice of the sacrifices, and in the table of the Old 
Testament, and in that which is offered to the idols ; and 
in their offerings he distinguishes the three states and 
sects of the world — the Christians, the Jews, and the 

By this is seen the great respect, reverence, and 
obedience that St. Jerome professed to the Roman Church 
and to the Pope, and how he seeks refuge and security in 
that Church, and to her faith only does he trust himself, 
since her sole authority suffices to put down the proud 
judgments of those who rise against her and who miserably 
fall into the abyss. 

The second letter contains in substance the same as 
the aforesaid, that pressure was being used, that the 
distance was very great, and his place of dwelling so 
secluded that there was small chance for letters to reach 
him ; and then he goes on to say : 2 " The importunate 
woman spoken of in the Gospel 3 at length merited to be 
heard. Although the friend had already retired for the 
night, his door closed, the young men asleep, nevertheless 
the friend received the loaves, although she had come at 
midnight. And even God Himself, Whom no power can 

1 1 Cor. x. 16, etc. 2 Epist. 58, ad Damasum. 3 Luke xxiii. 


overcome, was conquered by the pleadings of the Publican. 
The city of Nineveh, which was perishing for its sins, was 
upheld by the force of tears. But for what purpose seek 
things of so long ago ? Solely that you, who are great, 
should look on the little one, and in order that you, 
although you are a rich shepherd, should not despise the 
ailing sheep. Christ, from His cross, took the thief to 
Paradise, and so that it might not be thought that his 
conversion had taken place too late, He transformed that 
homicide into martyrdom. Christ, too, embraces with 
joy the prodigal son, who returns. And, leaving the 
ninety- nine sheep, returns for the one that has strayed 
away and carries it on His shoulders. Paul, from a 
persecutor, becomes a preacher, and he is blinded in his 
material, bodily sight, in order the better to see with the 
eyes of the soul ; and he who had apprehended and taken 
the servants of Jesus Christ as prisoners before the 
tribunals of the Jews, now himself boasts of the prisons 
he suffers for Jesus Christ, Hence I who, as I informed 
you by another letter, received in Rome the investiture of 
Christ, and now dwell in the deserts dividing the boundaries 
of the Assyrians and the Barbarians, not because I came 
here through reason of being sentenced by justice, but I 
condemned myself to do so on account of my demerits. 
But in fact, as the Gentile poet 1 says : ' He changetk not 
his soul but the sky, whosoever crosseth the seas ' ; therefore 
the enemy came to me untired, dogging my steps, for his 
assaults are fiercer which I suffer from him in the desert. 
Here the rage and fury of the Arian sect, by the favour of 
the world, increases cruelly ; here the Church is broken into 
three parts, each part striving to carry all to itself. The 
monks who reside round about here, with the authority of 
ancients, rise up against me ; meanwhile that I in a loud 

1 Horace. 


voice proclaim : 'He that shall unite with the chair of 
Peter, he, and he alone, is mine ; Meletius, Vitalis, and 
Paulinus, each one tells me he belongs to you.' I might 
believe it to be so if this were said to me by one, but now 
that by contrary acts they pursue one another, I say this, 
either two of them lie, or all three of them ; therefore I 
humbly beseech you, by the cross of the Lord, by what is 
due to the honour of our faith, and by the passion of 
Christ, that whereas you bear the apostolic dignity, do 
you also carry the merit ; hence with the twelve do you 
sit to judge the world : thus may another bind you as 
Peter, and thus may you attain the dwelling of heaven 
with St. Paul : and with your letters do you advise me 
and instruct me as to which of these in Syria I am to 
communicate with and join ; and do not despise this soul 
for whom Christ died." 

These are letters which should not be left unread by 
any one, and even be perused many times over. It would 
be well that those who esteem the saint for his great 
erudition should also admire and trust him in this part 
and imitate him, bending low their proud necks to the 
authority of the pontiff in simple obedience, since Jerome, 
with so much humility and love, inclines his head and his 

We have no account of the reply of Damasus to these 
letters, but by the text of many other letters which these 
two saintly men wrote to one another it is inferred that he 
did reply to them. Time and its changes, which consumes 
everything, has wrought in this particular as with other 
sacred monuments of the antiquity of the Church. What 
may be gathered from this is that the holy pontiff, in 
view of these epistles and the eloquence and erudition 
in all his letters, conceived a great affection for Jerome. 
It appears to be the fact that even before he came to 


Rome he knew him well, and had written to him several 
letters asking for declarations on some difficult passages in 
the Scriptures. Such great fame had this saintly youth 
already attained. Let us leave this for its proper place, 
and return to witness the haste with which the heretics — 
or the devil for them — employed in his regard in order to 
disquiet that holy soul and drag him out of the remote 

When these heretics perceived that they could not 
shake his opinion, nor overturn the foundations of the 
stronghold laid upon so firm a rock as that of the obedience 
and faith of the Church, they turned against him like 
furious dogs, howling and barking, imputing to him vices, 
and defaming him in what places they could, and even 
they, who were themselves heretics, calling him a heretic, 
proclaiming him as such, as though he could be so who is 
subject, bound, and obedient to the apostolic See. Their 
defamations reached to the point that some saintly virgins 
who lived in observance on Mount Hermon began to 
withdraw from him. The saint was devoted to them on 
account of their sanctity ; he oftentimes wrote to them, 
but after they had this evil opinion induced into them, 
never again would they correspond with him. Jerome, 
feeling hurt at this, rather on account of the deceit practised 
on them than of his own hurt, wrote to them in this wise : — 

" The small size of the letter and parchment are 
indicative of solitude, hence I have to condense the 
copiousness of what I had to say into a small space. I 
would wish to speak to you in a large manner, and yet the 
short page forces me to be silent, and thus skill must over- 
come poverty ; the letters are few, while the reasoning is 
long. In this strait charity aids me, since even the want 
of the wherewith to write upon prevents me from writing. 
I beseech you to pardon the wounded one. I say it with 


sorrow ; I say it with tears, and weepingly, for not even 
one word have you vouchsafed me in reply, whilst I have 
performed this duty so often. I am well aware that light 
does not communicate with the shadows, nor can the sinner 
form any companionship with the servants of God. But 
yet, the public sinner bathed with her hands the feet of 
the Lord, and the dogs eat the crumbs that fell from the 
table of their masters, and the Saviour Himself did not 
come to call the just but sinners, for, without any doubt, 
those in health have no need of a physician ; and He 
desireth more the penitence of the sinner than his death. 
The strayed sheep He carries on His shoulders ; and the 
father receives with joyful countenance the prodigal son 
who returns to him. But what do I say ? Even the 
apostle says : Do not judge before the time. Who are 
you to dare to judge the servant of another? It is for his 
master to say whether he stands or falls ; and he that 
thinketh he stand, let him take heed lest he fall. And 
once again he says : Carry each other's burthens. Beloved 
sisters, in a very different manner does Christ judge than 
by the evil intentions and envy of men. The sentence 
given by His audience will not be like that given out in a 
muttered way in the corners. Many men's lives seem to 
us now just which later on will appear evil, and in earthen 
vessels frequently great treasures are hidden. St. Peter, 
who denied Christ three times, was restored to his first 
dignity on account of his bitter tears. To whom more is 
pardoned, greater is his love. No anxiety is expressed in 
regard to the whole flock of God, yet for the well-being of 
a sick ewe there is joy among the angels in heaven. And 
should this appear to any one an unworthy thing, let him 
hear what the Lord says : ' Friend, if I be good, is that a 
reason why your eye should be evil ? ' " 1 

1 Epist, 39, ad Virg. Hermon. 


I do not find a letter of this saint but what inspires 
admiration. I know not what more greatly to admire, 
whether it be sanctity and modesty, or the erudition 
and beauty of diction. When with the heretics and 
other suspicious persons he is seen to be rigid, severe, and 
strong, let him be seen with these holy virgins, cast down, 
humble and gentle, and then let them from henceforth 
learn how to give to each thing its due. The implacable 
enemy, who was weaving the warp of the piece, did not 
cease his vigilance. The more the saint manifests with 
humility his innocence by silence and abasement (even to 
mislead women), so much more does he grow fierce. The 
affair among the heretics had attained to such a fiery 
height against the saint that they wreaked upon him all 
the evil treatment which they could. At length the 
scheme of the capital enemy is made manifest that he 
would force Jerome to quit the desert, for with nothing 
less can his rage find an outlet. Oh ! divine judgments ! 
So also does God will it. For this is the common way with 
Him in dealing with the lives of the saints, yet the ends are 
different ; the one schemes the fall of Jerome, in order to 
stem the flow of the current towards that sanctity, to which 
he is journeying, and bring him back to the world ; the 
other to lift him up to great things of His service ; to 
make him a master of perfection in the world, and a great 
doctor of His Church! God does not wish — no — that his 
life should be all spent in deserts and solitude ; it was all 
very well to prove him and to exercise him for a time, so 
that the master of all should taste of everything. After 
spending four years of a life so rough yet saintly, practising 
such rigorous penance, the heretics pressed around him so 
violently with their malice that there were no means strong 
enough to resist them in a young man, alone in a strange 
land, without friends or protectors. It occurred to him as 


a last resource to withdraw and give in to envy. The 
saint himself depicts to us the battle and the power the 
heretics brought on to bear, when writing to Marcus, a 
priest of Chalcedon, in these words : " I have resolved 
upon taking advantage of the advice contained in the 
words of the Psalmist, where he says : ' While the sinner 
was against, me, I was struck dumb and was humbled, and 
held my peace, and even in what I could have spoken to the 
purpose, I remained silent.' And in another part : '/ was 
like one deaf and did not hear, and as one dumb I did not 
open my mouth ; I am made like a man who hears not.' But 
whereas charity rises above all things, and the will is more 
powerful than the determination or purpose, I do not 
attempt to excuse myself nor reply to those who grieve 
me, but only to you who asks me to do so. In good 
religion he is not hapless, nor does he remain, as it is said, 
burthened, who receives the injury, but he who does or 
inflicts the injury. And, as regards the first, before 
conversing of my faith which you have well known, it is 
imperative in me to appeal against the barbarism of this 
place where I dwell, with those verses known to all — 

What lineage of men be this — 
That such barbarous customs permit 
That even will not allow, as a resting-place 
The dry sand itself, rather calls to arms — 
So that we should take port and land ? 1 

I bring forward this verse of the Gentile poet because he 
who does not keep the peace of Christ, at least let him 
learn the peace of the pagan. They call me a heretic who 
am preaching and confessing the consubstantiality of the 
Trinity. They accuse me of being a follower of the 
heresy of Sabellius whilst confessing with untiring voice 
three subsistent persons, true, and perfect. Had this 

1 /Eneid, Virgil. 


accusation come from the Arians it would have been even 
so, bad enough. But if the orthodox and the Catholic 
reprehend this faith, for that very reason they cease to be 
what they said they were, and are in truth heretics. If it 
pleases them, let them condemn me along with the west 
and with Egypt. I mean to say with Damasus and with 
St. Peter : Why should they accuse one man only of 
the sin, putting aside his companions? If the rivulet 
carries but little water, the fault is not in the canal, but 
in the flow of the spring. I am ashamed to say it. From 
the depths of darksome caves and cells we wish to 
condemn the world ; and, enveloped in sackcloth and ashes, 
we want to sit in judgment on the bishops and on the 
prelates. What has the tunic of penitence to do with the 
regal spirit ? Chains and garbage, the long growth of the 
hair and beard are not the insignia of the diadem, but of 
mourning and of tears. I beseech of them to be permitted 
to keep silence. Why do they tear to pieces one of whom 
they need feel no envy ? If I be a heretic, what is that to 
you? Calm yourself — it has been already said. No 
doubt you fear lest as a man most eloquent in the Syrian 
and Greek tongues I might run from one church into 
another, deceiving the people, and forming some schism. 
Never did I take a single thing off any one, and no one 
thing do I receive gratis. With the work of our own 
hands and by the sweat of our brow, do we daily seek for 
what we are to eat, knowing that it was written by the 
apostle : he that worketh not, let him not eat. These 
things, venerable and holy Father, does Jesus Christ 
know, and Him I place as a witness with what pain and 
groaning I have written these things to you. I have 
kept silent ; perchance am I to keep always silent ? says 
the Lord. Not even a corner in the desert is allowed me ; 
each day I am asked for the faith I profess, as though I 


had been regenerated without faith. I confess, as they 
demand of me to do and wish, but that does not satisfy 
them. I submit to their opinion and they do not believe it. 
One only thing do they want, and that is that I should go 
from hence.* Very well, I am going. They wrenched 
from me the best of my soul ; my most cherished brothers 
wished to go from hence, and they are leaving because 
they declare that it is better to dwell with wild beasts 
than with Christians such as these ; and I, speaking for 
myself, say that were I not prevented leaving owing to 
the great emaciation of my body and the inclemency of 
the winter, I too would go at once. But meanwhile that 
I await the summer to come, I earnestly beseech them to 
grant me permission to dwell these few months in the 
solitude of the desert ; and if even this they should grudge 
to be too long to wait, I will go at once. Of the Lord's 
is the earth, and all that there is in it, let them rise alone 
to Heaven ; let it be for them alone that Jesus Christ died. 
Let them hold, possess, and be glorified, but as for me 
may God not will other glory than in the cross of my 
Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the world is crucified to me, 
and I am crucified to Him. By the faith you had in me 
to write to me, which faith I gave in writing to the holy 
Cyril, I declare that he who should not thus believe in, is 
far from Christ ; I have as trusted witnesses of my faith, 
your ears, and those of the blessed brother Zenobius, to 
whom together with you, all such as are here with me send 
much greeting." 

From this letter we might gather much. The wild 
persecutions of the heretics and their fury are made clear, 
since neither in one way or the other did they allow the 
holy monk to rest, and it also appears that many of these 
were themselves monks ; hence the great humility and 
suffering of his soul are made manifest ; the great love 


he had for the desert ; how earnestly he had undertaken 
to lead the life of an angel, since he comes to say that 
which St. Paul did — that he is as much crucified to the 
world as the world is to him. From this is inferred what 
great favours he must have received from Heaven, what 
consolations, what visits — for in the midst of so much 
roughness and so many persecutions, his soul lives with 
such exquisite pleasure, that he is broken-hearted at the 
thought that he must quit the place. The conversation 
he held with his holy companions was very sweet, their 
persons and their feet stood materially there on earth, but 
their conversation and intercommunion was of heaven, and 
in Heaven were all things. Every time, when, after this 
the saint has occasion to speak of this period of his life 
and this dwelling, it can well be perceived how deep is the 
feeling and the grief he experienced at its loss, and he 
usually says in regard to it, the words of David : Lord, one 
day in the courts of Thy house is better than a thousand in 
the dwellings of kings} In the epistle he wrote to his 
great friend Pammachius, he renews this memory and says : 
" I was not then in Rome, because the desert held me, 
and would to God that it held me always " ; and other 
expressions to the same effect. At length Jerome came 
forth from the desert, or better said, God drew him out, 
working by the hand of the enemy His own cause and 
that of the Church. With this tool is her living stones 
chiselled ; with it is polished the lives of the saints. 
Jerome comes forth from this seclusion quite another 
man, because, although he entered a saint, he draws 
now a new taste and light for the things of Heaven, 
instructed in continual contemplation and prayer. He 
comes forth, as it were, tanned by so many trials and 
rough usage, tried by so many illnesses, full of the divine 

1 Epist. 26. 


revelations by which he has been disillusioned of all 
human glories vain and perishable. He comes forth in 
a word, learned in three languages owing to his new 
studies of the Hebrew, and we might say four, or indeed 
many more, for he also learned the Syrian, Arabic, and 
Aramaic tongues, and all those common languages of the 
east which are of great importance in assisting to attain 
the perfect knowledge of the holy language. Lastly, he 
comes forth lashed by so good a hand as that of the 
Divine One, in order that now all surrendered into His 
school, he should not slip off into the profane one, content 
with what remained in the archives of his memory, 
sufficient for the requirements of his present one. 


St. Jerome dwells in Antioch. Is ordained Priest by the 
Patriarch Paulinus. Becomes a Disciple of Apollinaris . 
Proceeds to Constantinople to study under St. Gregory 
Nazianzen. St. Jerome returns to Palestine. He 
corresponds with St. Damasus. 

It is held certain that when the holy doctor left the desert, 
he had already received the advice and reply from Pope 
Damasus as to what he should do, bidding him proceed 
to Antioch, and there to communicate with Bishop 
Paulinus, one of three we have said, who had caused a 
division in the Church. Nicephorus Callistus tells us that 
this Paulinus was a modest man, very circumspect, of 
exemplary piety, great holiness of life, and a staunch 
adherent to the holy Roman Church. Jerome, like an 
obedient son, went at once direct to him. He continued 
in his company for a considerable time, ever the same, 
ever the monk and. the solitary, and leading as penitential 
a life as he had done in the desert. In what appertained 
to the study of sacred letters he never neglected it, or 
was ever idle ; and at the time he was at the height of his 
fervour, and at the period when he most delighted in 
perusing the Scriptures, forasmuch as the veil had been 
removed from his eyes, as to the deceitfulness of profane 

books. It so happened that at this time the erudite 



Apollinaris, Bishop of Syria, was at Antioch. 1 There 
were two of the same name, father and son, both very 
learned. Nicephorus does not say that one of them 
was Bishop of Laodicea; of the father he says, he 
was a priest, and the son was lector, and it was 
when he held this position that the son withdrew 
from the Church. Yet we ought to give greater credence 
to St. Jerome, who not only saw them, but held inter- 
course with both, and the list of illustrious personages 
styles the one Bishop of Laodicea. 2 So also does 
Theodoret in his history when he recounts the differ- 
ences existing between Paulinus, Meletius, and Vitalis, 
but narrates them somewhat differently from Nicephorus. 
What I do know to have been the case in this affair was 
that the affairs of the Church of Antioch were at the time 
in a very disturbed state, owing to the divers heresies 
then existing, that of Arius on one side, and those of 
Apollinaris on the other, and the schism of the bishops, 
which only further disturbed everything, for even among 
themselves they could not understand one another. 
Hence it is no wonder if authors disagree about the issue. 
The reason why our saint approached the Bishop 
Paulinus we have already touched upon. From which we 
gather the reason why he would not communicate with 
Meletius, who was a most saintly man, for the writers of 
that period all praise him. Some style him " most holy," 
others " divine," and others again most meek ; but for all 
that he had been consecrated by the Arians, and this was 
a matter of much suspicion to Jerome as well as to others. 
Therefore, being under the authority of that part of the 
Church ruled by Paulinus, Jerome, without heeding its 
revolts, or interfering in the pretensions of the bishops and 
of the world, for all these at the time were the offices and 

1 Niceph. lib. 17, cap. 12. 2 Theod. lib. 5, cap. 3. 


ministries of the Holy Ghost, carried his soul full of other 
affections and desires. He discoursed on naught else but 
of the law of God, and wheresoever this language was 
listened to there would he resort. And as Apollinaris 
was as learned as fame tells us, and the saint as humble 
as we know him to be, he did not disdain to frequent for a 
short time his school. Jerome listened to him, culled from 
his discourses the best that was in him, enjoyed his genius, 
but what was not his best he put aside. This conduct 
does he himself declare he followed when writing to 
Pammachius and Oceanus. 1 " Alas! says Isaias to such 
that say evil is good and good evil : those who make bitter 
sweet and what is sweet bitter. We must not speak evil 
of the good we see in our adversaries, nor praise the vices 
of friends, nor weigh the worth of each one by his person, 
but by the value which his things have and which we see. 
Lucilius is reprehended because he is not a very polished 
poet, nor his metre smooth, but his wit and subtleties are 
lauded by all. When I was a youth I burned with desires 
of knowledge, and I do not wish, as many others presume, 
to teach myself nor be my own master. Many times did 
I listen to Apollinaris Laodicensis in Antioch, and I 
esteemed him greatly, and although he instructed me in 
the sacred scriptures, yet not for that did his pertinacious 
opinions please me any more than his bad doctrine." This 
is a good counsel of St. Jerome, worthy of his spirit and 
discretion. Of the error of Apollinaris there is no need 
to give an account here, for it is nothing to our purpose. 
Such as desire to know further, and understand radically 
the differences of Antioch, may read the authors contem- 
porary with him. 

In many other places does our saint mention Apollinaris, 
and never does he disclaim having been a disciple of his, 

1 Epist. 63. 


and always under the conditions and reserve I have 
already stated, in order to profit from the good in him, 
yet without turning his eyes or even casting a glance upon 
what was evil. Many, through not doing this, and being 
so sensitive in regard to every small defect which 
they meet which does not please them, lose the enjoyment 
of a thousand treasures, as though pearls laid among a 
small portion of straw could lose their intrinsic value as 
pearls. Great geniuses often fall owing to their singular 
opinions, which commonly are not pleasing, yet not for 
that should we despise them ; rather we should proceed 
very carefully with them, and listen to them, for they 
usually have most singular and beautiful ideas, and some- 
times it so happens that in what they most displease us is 
just in what they are most excellent. I say this as regards 
ordinary things, for in what relates to religion we know 
our path and what are the rules of the Church. These 
rules had not been so strictly laid down or defined in the 
time of St. Jerome, as they are at present. The heretics 
were mixed up with the Catholics, and among them were 
men so grave and learned that oftentimes they carried 
with them the greater part of the oriental Church. More- 
over, it was most difficult at that age, when so few councils 
had as yet been held, to establish the complete integrity 
of the dogmas. The saintly doctor lost not a single point 
of the monastic life in the midst of the city. There he 
walked, his soul and body wrapped in the seclusion of the 
desert, and in the silence of that solitude into which God 
takes His own when He speaks to the heart. Jerome 
never put aside his continual penances, nor gave up his 
watchfulness, nor did he interrupt other exercises of his 
early life, like one who in all earnestness had undertaken 
to follow the state of perfection without turning his head 
to look back. At times, impelled by divine desires and 


the soul's yearning to quit this prison of earth, he would 
rise above to dwell alone in those pastures of love. 
Then he would proceed to visit the places in the Holy 
Land, the fire commencing to be kindled of that great 
love he subsequently bore them. But whether he bent 
his steps there, or whether he proceeded elsewhere, 
wherever he might go for diverse reasons, he ever remained 
the strictest of monks, ever the same and always advancing, 
like to one of the angels of Jacob's ladder who were never 
idle or still. Paulinus considered all this with great atten- 
tion, for he was a man of lofty judgment. He perceived 
united together in this youth not only great erudition and 
letters, but also exalted religion and consummate virtue. 
He judged that it would be to the great advantage of the 
Church and to himself, that he should be a priest, both 
because Jerome could then help him in everything that 
might be necessary in his office, as also that he might 
prove him and honour him for his merits. This he 
put into practice. He ordained him priest, despite the 
resistance offered by the saint, who deeply felt himself 
unworthy to be raised to so high a dignity, because, as he 
was so learned he well knew what the priesthood was, and 
how much it would entail upon him. It also appeared to 
him that the state of a humble religious, and that of a 
lowly monk, poor and solitary, did not accord with so much 
grandeur, and he therefore offered all the resistance he 

The saintly prelate, however, prevailed, and even com- 
pelled him by obedience to accept the dignity. All this 
does our glorious doctor briefly signify in an epistle x which 
he wrote to Pammachius against the errors of John of 
Jerusalem, and which we quoted above. 

That Paulinus was the Bishop of Antioch who ordained 

1 Epist. 61. 


Jerome priest is proved, because in the same epistle, 1 
speaking with the said John, he says as follows : "If what 
you say about being ordained without your license and within 
your jurisdiction, you understand it of me and of the holy 
priest Vincentius, you in truth have been asleep in this 
affair, since at the lapse of thirteen years you now awake. 
Let me inform you, that for this did I leave Antioch and 
he Constantinople, cities of such renown, forasmuch as we 
did not contemplate exercising the office of the priesthood 
for the praise and the applause of the people, but in order 
to weep over the sins of our early youth in solitude and in 
the wilderness, and thus draw upon us the mercy of Jesus 
Christ." This passage fully declares what we quoted 
above of St. Epiphanius, writing to the same Bishop of 
Jerusalem, in which', the saint says that Vincentius and 
Jerome, on account of their great humility and modesty, 
did not wish to exercise the office of priests among their 
brethren. Great indeed was the humility of our saint, 
very different from such as undertake these sacred offices 
for vain motives. Saints more greatly esteem that the 
Holy Ghost should make His dwelling in them by the gift 
of sanctification than with that which appertains to the 
ministry and office, hence they easily would leave the 
latter so as to embrace the former, because to have been for 
many years bishop or archbishop will not enable a man to 
go to heaven, but it will do so to have been humble of 
heart, and to have the fear of God and of His precepts. 
For this reason did our Lord and Master say, that unless 
our justice exceeded that of the Scribes and Pharisees we 
should not enter the kingdom of God. This our Lord 
declared even of good Scribes and Pharisees, who in 
reality had the justice of the law, but not that of the Gospel, 
and also did He include in the number those who among 

1 Efist. 61, cap. 1 6. 


themselves were accounted just and despised others, 
calling them by a low and contemptuous word, populus 
terra, a people who did not rise from the ground, nor 
could they be equalled with them in any way. It was this 
that our saint wished to fly from in the new dignity, not 
because it naturally follows it, but because pride takes 
advantage of it for its hurt. 

Some may question why St. Jerome joined Paulinus 
rather than Meletius, — for as St. Gregory Nazianzen, 
Nicephorus Callistus, and other Greeks declare, he was 
found to be an Arian ; and it appears that the doctor 
himself says the same in the epistles quoted above 
which he sent to Damasus, wherein he expresses himself 
equally suspicious of the three. We have already touched 
upon the reason of this, and that, despite the suspicion, it 
was charged on him by Pope Damasus. The most solid 
reason is found to be that Paulinus, as many Greek writers 
refer, among them St. Basil in his Epistle to Terentius (?) 1 
(which epistle, although not in print yet exists in 
some original manuscripts) was that the Roman Church 
always held him to be a Catholic, and as such was confirmed 
by St. Damasus in the Pontifical chair of Antioch, this is 
declared by Socrates in his history, as well as by Nice- 
phorus. This being so, Jerome, who was ever obedient 
to the apostolic chair, could not do otherwise than attach 
himself to Paulinus. It is true to say that Nazianzen 
and his friend Basil felt aggrieved that Meletius should 
have been excluded and Paulinus admitted. However, 
as they were not personally known to him, they did not 
make any complaint. I have been unable to ascertain 
how it could be that both Nicephorus and Theodoretus 
in the aforesaid places, should have said that both were 
Bishops of Antioch until their death, and that a decree 

1 Mariana, in Schol. Epist. 61, D. Hier. 


had been promulgated to all the clergy that so long as 
these two lived no other should be admitted to the dignity. 
Be it what it may, for it does not concern the aim of our 
history, we at least can gather how deeply our saint could 
be ruled by obedience to the Pope, and how for him, in 
such cases as these, it was an infallible rule ; and it also 
remains investigated that it was this Paulinus who ordained 
him ; because some are mistaken who believe that it 
was another Paulinus, Bishop of Treves, who was more 
remote even than St. Hilary ; a thing quite out of place, 
for it could not possibly have been our saint, for it was 
in the time of Constantius, and after the Synod of Aries 
that he was exiled, because he refused to sign the Con- 
demnation of St. Athanasius, which was then published, 
as Sulpicius refers. 

That great thirst which St. Jerome confesses he 
experienced for the study of the sacred letters made him, 
as we have said, to be always seeking where to satisfy and 
quench it. At that period St. Gregory Nazianzen was 
famous, called by excellence " the Theologian," and St. 
Jerome was minded to visit him, and be his disciple in 
earnest. He journeyed to Greece. I believe on this 
occasion he was at Athens, because he himself declares 
it when expounding 1 the twelfth chapter of Zacharias the 
prophet, where occurs the following words : " / will make 
Jerusalem a burthensome stone to all the people ; all that shall 
lift it up shall be rent and torn ; " the saint says that in 
Palestine it was the custom, and one which existed in his 
time, of placing round stones like boulders to mark the 
division of property, and that many resorted there to try 
their strength by lifting the heaviest and the greater 
number. Some would lift them as far as their knees, 
others to the waist, while others even placed them on 

1 Zacharias xii. 3. 


2I 5 

their heads. For this purpose, in the Palace of Athens, 
close to the statue of Minerva, he saw a ball of 
metal of enormous weight, but which he could not even 
move owing to his state of weakness and want of power. 
" On my asking," says the saint, " for what purpose it 
was placed there, the citizens replied that this ball was the 
test for wrestlers and gladiators ; they came there to try 
their courage and their strength, and no one was per- 
mitted to come forth in the theatre and place of wrestling 
and combat until he, by raising that globe, should prove 
his power, and thus manifest against whom he might 
combat." From this ancient custom our doctor draws 
the original meaning of this passage in Zacharias, as it 
would be difficult otherwise to understand the similitude 
of the prophet. And in passing we wish to draw attention 
to the great importance of peregrinations, wherein are 
witnessed and observed the usages and customs of different 
lands, to which allusion is oftentimes made in metaphors, 
not only in the Holy Books, but by other writers. In all 
places do wise men find something to learn, and all things, 
in time, are of profit to them. 

The fame of Gregory for sanctity and letters continued 
to increase throughout the world. Jerome sought him out 
and found him in Constantinople, where he had come to 
at the time in order to arrange certain differences in 
favour of Catholics against the Arians. He had been 
brought there in the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I. 
previous to the Council of Constantinople, this Council 
being one of the four General Councils which St. Gregory 
Pope declared he held in as much respect as the four 
Gospels. This was during the early years of the 
Pontificate of Damasus. The great doctor of the Church 
St. Gregory Nazianzen carried the business through with 
such skill and tact, and so lifted up the faith and placed 


the affairs of the Catholics on such a firm footing, that all 
things became altered. He was made Bishop, and, joining 
together doctrine and authority, in a very short space of 
time not a single Arian dared to appear in the city. Of 
his discipleship under such a master St. Jerome is justly 
proud, and in many places in his works does he mention 
him. In the Catalogue of Illustrious Men he styles him 
a most eloquent man, and that he was his preceptor from 
whom he had learned sacred letters as he had heard him 
expound them. In the Epistle to Nepotian he says: 1 
" Gregory Nazianzen, who formerly had been my pre- 
ceptor, on my beseeching him to declare to me what was 
meant by that passage in St. Luke 2 Sabbatum deuteroproton, 
id est, secundo primum, he, with charming courtesy, replied 
to me, saying, " I will demonstrate this to you over there 
in the church, where, amid the applause of the people, you 
will have to confess, whether you will or no, that you 
understand what you do not understand, and if you will 
not agree to this, not joining in the applause, but keeping 
silent, you will be held by all to be very ignorant." The 
saintly theologian here distinctly acknowledges to the 
wise disciple that he does not know the passage, nothing 
offering itself to him which could satisfy the genius of 
so clever a disciple, and thus he gave him this graceful 
repartee, manifesting that it is an easy thing for a man 
who has won the favour and the taste of the people to 
make men believe anything he should say. To this most 
learned Nazianzen there was wanting some knowledge of 
Hebrew traditions and customs, for had he had such 
knowledge he could have given some explanation had he 
understood the passage, which means nothing else but 
the second day of the feast after the first and principal one 
of the great Week, called thus the Passover of the 

1 Epist. 2, cap. 10. 2 Luke vi. I. 


Lamb. The first day was called primo primum, and the 
second day secundo primum. Writing upon the sixth 
chapter of Isaias again does he say 1 that, being in 
Constantinople with his master Gregory Nazianzen, who 
was bishop of that city, and the one who had instructed him 
in the sacred Scriptures, he made a short treatise on the 
vision of the prophet to test his genius, and also to comply 
with the request of some of his friends who had besought 
him to do so. Thirty years had passed since the saint 
had written the treatise when he dictated this exposition 
on Isaias ; nevertheless it appears to him that it should be 
assigned to him as it is done. From this may be inferred 
how great was his erudition and doctrine, and how much 
greater still his humility, for being what he was, yet he 
does not disdain to become his disciple. Let us therefore 
glance over this exposition of the vision of Isaias in order 
to fully understand who and what was Jerome at that 
time, both in letters as in virtue. 

In two epistles written to Damasus is the exposition 
divided by which St. Jerome gave a proof of his genius. 
These epistles bear comparison with any writing of the 
most erudite ever issued by the Greek and Latin churches. 
It may be well said that in what Jerome tested his hand, 
and, as it were, commenced his genius, other gifted doctors 
of the church ended theirs. Oh, good disciple ! At the 
pleading of his friends he tells us did he undertake the 
task, and it was in obedience to them, for he was ordered 
to do so. I believe it was Damasus who was the chief 
among these, and he could not but obey him. The Holy 
Pontiff, charmed with these epistles as well as with others 
he had seen, and delighted at the renown this saintly 
youth enjoyed, asked him for many other declarations 
later on. When expounding those words of the Apostle 

1 Comment, in Isai. c. 6. 


to the Ephesians, This is a great Sacrament, he says as 
follows : 1 " Gregory Nazianzen, a most eloquent man 
and very learned in the sacred writings, when I discussed 
with him this passage, used to say, ' Do you not see 
how great is the mystery and hidden meaning of this 
chapter? For when the apostle wrote it he interpreted 
of Christ and His Church, and he affirms that he does not 
declare the depth with the grandeur and dignity which it 
demands, but only in some part.' " He also refers 2 that, 
being together with his master Gregory Nazianzen, the 
brother of the great Basil, called Gregory of Nyssa, read 
to them some of his works. By this is seen the great 
humility of the saint, who, although it is true he calls 
himself a disciple, and declares he learned of Apollinaris 
and of Gregory Nazianzen and others, yet by the way 
they all discoursed together it is evident that they learned 
as much from Jerome as he from them. 

At this period Jerome was much advanced in the 
knowledge of the Hebrew as well as the Syrian language, 
of which we have grounds to suppose these doctors did 
not possess. This was a great advantage, and is well 
manifested in the treatise on the exposition of the vision 
of Isaias, and others he wrote before coming to Rome. 
After Jerome had enjoyed the doctrine and intercourse with 
Gregory Nazianzen, he decided to return to Palestine. I 
believe the desire for solitude and for the monastic life 
had taken possession of his soul. In some measure the 
dissensions which were rife at this time in Constantinople 
carried some weight in the decision, for we find they 
increased day by day, because the children of that period 
knew not how to be quiet, nor allowed others to enjoy 
quietude ; they were, and are, the goats in the flock of the 
Church until they be separated and set on the left hand. 

1 Comment, ad Eph. 5. 2 In Catalog. Illust. 


Despite all that St. Gregory was, there arose against him 
envious men who could not endure that the city of 
Constantinople should enjoy such a pastor, and who 
declared he could not be bishop of this city, because, 
without synodal determination and authority, he had left 
the previous bishopric of Nazianzen and had entered the 
one of Constantinople. On witnessing such disquietude 
of spirit, Gregory decided to yield to their evil designs 
and leave that see, and this decision he put in execution. 
Neither did he wish that one Maximus Cynicus should 
remain whom the Arians had elected, so that he should 
not revert to his first state ; and he placed one Nectarius, 
a man of great virtue and very learned, who was received 
with much applause by all. Furthermore, Gregory did 
not wish to return to his first chair of Nazianzen, because 
the saintly prelate did not set his heart on these dignities. 
He issued orders for Eulalius to be elected to the 
bishopric, meanwhile that he himself withdrew to an 
estate he had of his own to dwell there for the remainder 
of his life, leading a saintly existence with great calmness 
of spirit. 

As we have said, Jerome returned to Palestine, and 
proceeded to visit Bethlehem. I cannot say whether this 
was his first visit, but now he commenced to foster a 
deep devotion to this spot, so holy and so full of tender 
memories. He continued there for some time ; this fact I 
am quite convinced of, for he on his return spoke of the 
place as familiar to him, which he would not have done 
had it been for the first time. Whilst dwelling here in 
solitude and retirement, with only such few conveniences 
as a monk of such a strict life would allow himself, he 
enjoyed a thousand favours from heaven, his soul 
enraptured in divine thoughts, enjoying an almost con- 
tinual contemplation, lifted above all visible things until he 


became bound in the bonds of a most intimate love with 
the Supreme Good and his loving Jesus. At this period 
Jerome received some letters from Pope Damasus which 
aroused him from the sweet slumber of contemplation, by 
propounding questions and points from the sacred scrip- 
tures. Such was the credit Jerome already enjoyed in 
Rome, and so great the fame of his genius and learning, 
which had spread everywhere. Indeed it is a great 
subject of marvel that so wise and saintly a pontifif as 
Damasus should take notice of a youth dwelling so far 
away in remote lands, when so many very great and 
grave doctors flourished in those days — indeed perhaps the 
most celebrated the Church had held — were at hand ; yet 
he seems to have cast them in oblivion, and turns his eyes 
on Jerome, and to him alone does he discover his doubts 
and asks a solution of them. It was due to this galaxy of 
celebrated divines surrounding Damasus that some authors 
say the title of Glorious was prefixed to this pope. By 
this may be seen that the Spanish pope and saint had 
good taste, and that by the claws he had perceived the 
lion, and from his brief letters he traced and scented great 
things. And in truth his judgment did not deceive him, 
as will be made manifest in the course of this history. 

Among other letters which Damasus penned to Jerome, 
affectionate and becoming a fatherly heart, the first was the 
one in which occurs the following : " I have determined to 
rouse you who have been now a long time in the sweet 
slumbers of prayer and contemplation, caring naught but 
for reading since you have not attempted to write any- 
thing, by sending to you for some explanations concerning 
certain points and questions — not that it be not right for 
you to read, which I am well aware is to you like daily 
bread, and a food by means of which prayer is maintained 
and strengthened ; but were you to write the fruit might 


be gathered from the lesson, for when sending back 
Etherius the messenger you stated you had no longer any 
of the epistles save those which you on one occasion had 
written in the desert, and which I read diligently and with 
great pleasure, and which I transcribed ; moreover of your 
own accord you promised to steal some moments at 
night, if I wished you to write something for me. I now 
accept with great goodwill what you offered me, and 
indeed should you refuse me, even so I would still 
beseech you to do so. I do not think we could choose 
for our conversation a more worthy subject to treat upon 
between us than the sacred letters. I mean to say, I, to 
question you, and you to reply. I assure you that as for 
me there could be no sweeter life, because this pasture 
and food of the soul exceeds the sweetness of the honey- 
comb. How sweet, says the prophet, are Thy words to 
my mouth, O Lord ! Sweeter than honey are they to 
my mouth." Such reasons as these, and others as humble 
and loving, does he proceed to declare. He then puts to 
him some difficult, grave questions. Jerome replied to 
these questions in a famous letter, 1 these questions being 
replied and treated briefly and in a masterly manner, their 
difficulties dispelled clearly and firmly. The beginning 
of the reply runs in this form : " On receiving the letter 
of your holiness I at once summoned a scribe. I bade 
him write, while I prepared what I was to do, and thinking 
within myself what I should say, scarcely moving my 
tongue and the scribe his pen, there unexpectedly 
entered in a Hebrew, loaded with many books taken from 
the synagogue, as though to peruse them, and at once 
exclaimed, ' Stay ! I have here with me what you wish 
and had asked for.' He left me in doubt and confusion, 
without knowing what to do, for I was disturbed at his 

1 Epist. 125. 


haste, but nevertheless I put aside all else, and with all 
possible diligence I began to transcribe, and up to the 
present I have done nothing else. But as Etherius, the 
deacon you sent me, tells me that you are waiting, as you 
yourself say, for a letter, and I think you expect a great 
commentary, and you desire a reply in brief on the things, 
each of which would require a full commentary and a 
volume to itself, I write this as a hurried affair, rude and 

Farther on he adds : " The Book of the Holy Ghost of 
Didymus I have in hand, and which I purpose to dedicate 
to you after it is translated, in order that you may not 
deem that I am slumbering, since you judge that the 
lesson without the writing is but a dreamed thing. I set 
down here what I deem right to the questions you ask me 
at the end of your letter, at the same time asking pardon 
for the haste and the delay — of the haste because I 
attempted to dictate in one night what in truth really 
demands the work of many days — of the delay, because, 
being detained in other things, I did not at once reply 
to what you asked me." 

From this appears that the two saints often wrote to 
one another, and, to our misfortune, these great treasures 
of their letters are lost to us, along with many others 
which time and its changes have consumed. From these 
losses has resulted the fact that bold men have dared 
to pose themselves as Jerome and Damasus, writing 
spurious letters with assumed titles (as though pearls 
could not be distinguished from coals), and thought that 
all other men were men of as simple a judgment as they 
were themselves. Beyond the letters we have stated, 
there are no other letters from Damasus to Jerome 
beyond the one he wrote to him asking what did the 
Gospel mean by Hosanna filio David, and the reply of the 


saintly doctor, which is of equal value and gravity as 
are the others. 1 All those that are scattered about 
are spurious and fictitious. I hold it as a happy augury 
that the first monuments of the divine genius of Jerome 
should have been consecrated to Damasus, the Spanish 
pope, and that Spain should glory no less in having 
produced that saintly pontiff than in such writings as these. 

1 In t. 4. Secundum Eras, in t. 9. Secundum Mariam. 


St. Jerome returns to Rome ; assists Pope Damasus in 
all affairs of the Church 

The empire and rule of Theodosius still continued, and 
the saintly Pontiff Damasus yet governed the spiritual 
state ; both were princes of the most gifted order which 
the world has seen. It was a great glory for Spain that 
at one and the same epoch two of her sons should be at 
the head of the empires of the world, — in the spiritual world 
and in the temporal ; both so zealous for the public good, 
so careful of their respective offices, so well meaning for 
the relief and eradication of all evils, both equally great in 
spirit and in courage to execute all that was needed in 
whatever wants and occasions offered themselves. The 
holy prelate and the pious Emperor, perceiving the dis- 
sensions which existed in many of the churches of the 
east and of the west respecting divers affairs — some 
on account of the faith, others in respect to customs, 
and others again touching particular pretensions, more 
especially in the case of the Church of Antioch, which had 
been so deeply wounded many days before by the schism 
of the three prelates, Meletius, Paulinus, and Vitalis, 
who were considered by some to be in heresy — decided to 
interpose their authority in all things. It was ordained by 

letters, the emperor on the temporal side, and the pope on 



the spiritual one, which were sent to nearly all the bishops 
of the various parts for them to repair one and all to Rome, 
in order to have an investigation of affairs, and to receive 
instructions as to what should be done, as well as to 
enable each one to reply to the accusations and charges 
which had been laid and published against them. Among 
those who arrived in answer to the summons was Paulinus 
of Antioch, at whose hands our holy doctor had 
received his ordination as priest, and Epiphanius, Bishop 
of Constantia, or Salamina in Cyprus, men of great 
sanctity and letters, and both great friends of each other 
and mutual ones of Jerome. It seemed opportune to the 
Greek bishops to take, as some say, the learned Latin 
divine Jerome with them, forasmuch as he had already 
acquired a great name, and also because, as one who had 
dwelt in Antioch and at various times in Cyprus, he might 
be to them of great advantage in their affairs, by keeping 
the pontiff informed, whensoever the occasion should 
present itself, retaining him as a trustworthy witness in 
their defence; These bishops were well aware of the 
intimacy which existed between Jerome and Damasus 
from the letters and the messengers which frequently 
had passed between them, even before they had any 
personal knowledge of each other, known only by the 
credit and reputation they were held in. All these 
motives were efficacious reasons to urge these holy 
prelates willingly to take Jerome in their company; yet, 
for all that, I believe that they could not have urged any 
reasons of sufficient weight to have induced him to draw 
away from his beloved Bethlehem, to which, as we have 
said before, he had withdrawn himself, nor would they 
have persuaded him to quit it in order to interfere in the 
affairs of a third party, however friendly he might be. The 
reason, as a fact, was that they compelled him to go with 



them, forced to it by letters from the Emperor and the 
Pope. By so doing Damasus had found a good occasion 
for drawing into his company and power Jerome, an event 
he greatly desired, fully comprehending how advantageous 
it would be to retain him at his side, and how restful to 
himself, for the saint would lighten the burthen of duties 
consequent on his charge. 

The Church at that epoch had extended throughout 
the known world. In Asia, in Africa, and Europe there 
existed an infinite number of churches : the temples of the 
idols were few, indeed nearly extinct ; there were no 
other sects, but a few Arians and these hardly dared to 
appear publicly ; there were many learned men spread 
about all the provinces of these countries. As a con- 
sequence the business and the difficulties of the apostolic 
chair were becoming infinite. Then commenced to rise 
heresies, sects, fictions, and novelties which were very 
wearing ; many controversies and schisms followed in the 
train, and this most prudent pontiff judged that no more 
opportune occasion would arise than to have Jerome at 
his side to attend on and rule such a stream of things ; a 
man in whom he could safely place many affairs and who 
would be able to reply by mouth and pen to all the 
epistles and suits of every kind and language, and fully 
satisfy by one genius all the geniuses however great 
and deep they might be found to be. Undoubtedly it 
was by the inspiration of heaven that this thought was 
conceived. Damasus enjoined by his letters, aided by 
those of the Emperor, that among the summoned bishops 
Jerome should come to Rome without admitting any 
possible excuse to the contrary. As regards the pious 
prelates, this mandate which had come so opportunely 
to them must have been very welcome. It appears, 
indeed, to have been the fact that the saint came to Rome 


forced very much against the projects and the intentions 
with which he had quitted that city, as is gathered from 
the words of an epistle 1 of his written to the virgin 
Principia in the epitaph of Marcella, wherein among many 
things he said in her praise, occurs the following : " For- 
asmuch as the authority and needs of the Church brought 
me to Rome, together with the holy prelates Epiphanius 
and Paulinus, the one ruling the Church of Antioch in 
Syria and the other Salamina in Cyprus, I endeavoured 
with all reserve and bashfulness to withdraw my eyes 
from the Roman matrons and ladies, but so much skill was 
brought to bear, as the apostle says, in season and out of 
season, that at length my mortification and embarrassment 
had to be overcome. And whereas I was considered to 
have attained some knowledge of the holy Scriptures, never 
did he speak to me but he would ask me something in 
respect to them, nor was he easily satisfied." From this 
is clearly seen that he came to Rome by constraint. The 
same thing did he affirm in the epitaph 2 of St. Paula, 
where he declares that his coming to Rome was due to 
imperial letters. And it was full time — for our saint had 
passed the thirtieth year of his youth and strength — that he 
should commence in things of such gravity and of such 
moment to help his mother the Church, and labour for her, 
relieving the burthen from the shoulders of his pastor and 
father of a great portion of its weight, and shifting it 
on his own to favour the Christian republic ; since it was 
for this that God had brought him to a state of so much 
power and virtue, and it was not in reason that so bright 
a luminary should be hidden away in the desert among 
crags and brambles, solely dwelling in the company of 
rustic monks, for as he himself expresses it " holy rusticity 
profits itself alone." 

1 Epist. 16. c. 3. 2 Epist. 27. c. 2. 


Jerome came to Rome ; but what route he took, or 
how he came, or what trials he endured, we know not, 
there exists no record. Nor indeed would any records 
have existed of his other journeys but for his rivals giving 
him the opportunity to do so. This we do owe them, for 
they forced the saint by their envy to declare to us the 
details of his life. Here it comes opportune to state in 
passing, in order that the fact be not forgotten, and for 
the instruction of such as are rebels against the Apostolic 
See, that it is no new invention of yesterday, but a very 
ancient fact from the very beginning of Christianity, for 
all churches and prelates of the whole world to come for 
judgment, and to acknowledge obedience to, the city of 
Rome, as being the head of the Church and mother, and to 
recognise that Chair and Seat as the highest and first 
whence depends all causes, whether divine or forensic 
ones which appertain to faith and customs. St. Jerome 
manifests this in the Epistles which we have already 
quoted, by two clear examples in the case of the bishops, 
and in the fact of the prelates of the East and the West 
who had been now summoned ; and going much farther 
back in the case of St. Athanasius and St. Peter, both 
bishops of Alexandria, from which is proved conclusively 
their subjection and recognition of the Chair of Rome, 
and that throughout the ages the sentence had been 
carried out, spoken by our Lord to St. Peter : " And you 
being once converted, confirm your brethren." Hence, the 
saintly prelates came to Rome and with them also our 
Jerome. I cannot say where he took up his residence ; 
he only says in the epitaph of St. Paula, that Epiphanius 
took up his residence in the house of this holy matron, 
and that Paulinus, although he really was in another 
house, yet was treated as her own guest, for she even 
waited on and served him. If we are unable to state that 


Paulinus and Jerome dwelt together we can at least say 
with sufficient probability that Pope Damasus had him as 
his guest, so as not to allow him to depart, and from the 
very first his desire was to enjoy his society, since it was 
for himself alone that he had brought him to Rome. On 
coming to this city who can doubt that he revisited those 
places where he had been brought up, where he had spent 
some sweet years of his early youth, where he had learnt 
his first letters, and where he had received the vesture of 
Christ? He would refresh his spirit by these visits; 
again would he enter the holy sepulchres and grottoes of 
the cemeteries wherein were deposited the dust of those 
men who, with generous souls, had spilt their blood in 
return for the blood of Christ ; often must he have recalled 
to mind how in other days he had wandered about, his 
mind filled with childish thoughts, yet already full of the 
mercy of heaven as far as his childish mind could hold ; 
yet now he would view these scenes with other eyes, with 
more ardent and manly thoughts, his heart swelling with 
generous courage to suffer as much himself and march on 
beneath the banner of his Captain, following and pursuing 
the track of the enemy whom he had already conquered in 
a thousand encounters. Here he enjoyed the society of 
his great friend Pammachius and that of the fellow-students 
of his early years. Mutually would their countenances be 
bathed in tears of joy. They would look at one another 
and again on Jerome — but so altered that they hardly 
could recognise him, thin, emaciated, bronzed, dry, with- 
out colour, a man of bones, his hair unkempt, his eyes 
sunken, the eyeballs inflamed by the continual running 
of hot tears, his habit poor, patched, coarse — a veritable 
representation of an Elias, a Job, or an Anthony, in his 
speech, in his apparel, in his manner — all denoted the 
hermit of a rough life, of a monk full of perfection, of 


a man truly crucified to the world and transformed into 
Jesus Christ. They would be absorbed contemplating his 
presence, and would say to him : " O Jerome ! how greatly 
have the hopes we had formed of you been realised ; and 
those promises of your early years how they have been 
fulfilled ! Happy you, who so early in life did commence 
to try the sweet yoke of the Lord ! Happy indeed in 
whom so quickly were engrafted the aims which the Holy 
Spirit breathed in you, even at an age when these inspira- 
tions could scarcely have been felt, and hapless indeed are 
those who like ourselves never knew how to obtain freedom 
from the bonds of the world, from the cupidity of the 
flesh, the pride of life, nor have attained to open the 
door at the knocking of so many inspirations as God has 
offered us." 

Many other things of this sort must his friends have 
said to him, full of joy and a kind of holy emulation. 
Often would they question him as to how he had fared in 
that frightful solitude where they knew he had withdrawn 
himself to follow such strict penance, how he had spent 
his life ; what companions he had, what fare, where did 
they sleep ; what manner of life they led, what was the 
tenour of their conversation ; what exercises did they 
follow, and many other things that would suggest them- 
selves, never wearying of conversing with him and 
enjoying his company. The friendships that are formed 
in the early years of study remain very firmly fixed, and 
are never forgotten. They dearly loved him, and he in 
his turn reciprocated that affection ; and despite that they 
were men of grave pursuits, love made all these details to 
be of interest. Those who had never seen or conversed 
with him as they had, yet knew him by repute for his 
great gifts, hastened to see him, to hear and converse 
with him as with a miraculous being, and one and all held 


Rome to be fortunate indeed, and singularly blessed, that 
had reared up so splendid a plant. Some praised him for 
his sanctity and exterior modesty, a great index of an 
interior soul. Others were in admiration of his erudition 
and letters, others again lauded his great knowledge of a 
variety of tongues that he possessed, while others were 
struck by his urbanity and polished manner, his courteous 
style, not appearing as a man who had dwelt among beasts 
but amid the angels, for in truth the most polished man of 
society would have judged Jerome to have spent his time 
in the study of good breeding. Rome is, and has always 
been, the resort of all peoples and of singular intellects, 
owing to the fact that she is the centre of learning 
towards which all nations turn. Rome was, under pagan 
princes who were the lords of the world, in the same way 
as later on she altogether bent in submission to the 
Vicars of Christ ; hence in all ages in Rome could be found 
all that was desirable of skill and genius and singular 
talents. In the time of Damasus this concourse of talent 
was seen in a more excellent and abundant manner ; and 
furthermore, owing to the meeting together of the various 
churches of the east and of the west, Rome was full to its 
utmost capacity. Throughout the land was spread the 
report of the coming of Jerome, the man so eminently 
distinguished for sanctity and doctrine. Every one desired 
to see him, and all wished to measure words with him. 
Those who were dedicated to the study of the sacred 
writings, when they conferred with him, judged that in 
this study alone he must have spent his life, and that life 
seemed in truth too short to have acquired so much 
knowledge. Such as were exercised in the spiritual life 
and accustomed to the highest contemplation, and to the 
bliss which in such moments the soul enjoys, when they con- 
versed with him on the subject, felt the time speed on like a 


bird on the wing, because, from the great practice of this exer- 
cise the soul was deft in mounting high ; yet they were in 
admiration to see how much he had progressed in this kind 
of life, and to perceive in him so much experience in com- 
parison of his age, for in acquiring much less experience 
many more years are required to attain to it. While the 
counsels he gave on this subject, the craft of Satan which he 
was wont to discover, the difficulty that exists in acquiring 
discernment of spirits (indeed the greatest known on earth), 
he would level down by enlightened reasoning gathered 
from the gospels where they are scattered about with great 
subtlety and declared by the Lord Himself. Those who 
were skilled in human letters and in good philosophy and 
other erudite studies, judged it were almost impossible 
for him to have done anything else from his birth but 
occupy his whole time in these studies, and in this his 
marvellous memory was a great factor. Such as had 
a good knowledge of languages, especially of the Hebrew 
which he constantly had on his lips, declared as Jews, 
many of whom frequented Rome from the former cap- 
tivities, that he must have been brought up in the 
synagogue, and that, moreover, he must have drawn out 
its secrets from the most learned Rabbis. Those learned 
in the purest Greek and Syriac marvelled much at the 
great propriety and the diction with which he handled 
tongues and dialects. Some would hold him to be an 
Athenian, others for a man of Jerusalem ; such as followed 
the study of antiquity and history, and who had spent their 
time in their research, could not be convinced that the 
knowledge which he possessed could have been acquired 
by ordinary means. Yet, what caused most surprise and 
admiration was to see him treating upon such arduous 
affairs as were entrusted to him to carry through, or had 
been communicated to him ; it seemed in truth as though 


he had compassed the whole of jurisprudence, and that he 
possessed a deep experience of all schemes, issues, 
pleadings, and means for arranging and facilitating the 
law, with all the clearness and acumen of one accustomed 
to the curia and the forum. 

Such was the Jerome whom Rome now received. 
Such the delight his presence caused the learned men, 
since they desired to wrestle with him, see, and converse 
with him. To such a degree did this reach that the 
matrons of greatest holiness of life, and most withdrawn 
from the world, felt that it was inexpedient for them to be 
deprived of conversing with a man of such esteem, and 
they sought to communicate with him. They vied with 
one another to tender their appreciation of him. Among 
these were not only ladies of wealth and position but of 
great learning. These latter endeavoured, with saintly 
emulation, to approach him, and were followed by those of 
the highest rank, until they overcame the bashfulness and 
retirement of the monk, for his religious life he never lost 
sight of on any occasion whatsoever, but followed it in 
Rome in view of the whole world when all eyes were bent 
upon him. The holy Pontiff Damasus was overjoyed on 
beholding this homage, and all the praise lavished on his 
Jerome from every quarter, and the wisdom which 
emanated from his lips. It seemed to him that he had 
greatly aggrieved the Church by not sooner having 
brought forward such a mind for her service. In truth, 
the friendship, which by means of Epiphanius and Paulinus 
had been established with Jerome, added to the services 
they had rendered him, was largely instrumental in securing 
the satisfactory issue of these prelates' journey. Paulinus 
returned confirmed in his bishopric, gratefully and in 
subjection to the holy See. Epiphanius quickly despatched 
his affairs, and the Pope gave orders for him to return to 


his churches, he himself continuing with his new guest. 
Damasus clearly perceived that God had brought to him 
a great man, like to another Paul or Peter, in order that, 
at a time of so much business with heretics, as well as with 
the Catholics themselves, he, in union with the Emperor 
and princes, should assist him. Acting, therefore, under 
this impression, Damasus entrusted him with the gravest 
business of his office, namely, the replying to all doubts, 
questions, difficulties, and controversies respecting the 
faith, which should be sent for solution from all parts of 
the world to the apostolic See, as well as all others 
respecting good customs and appertaining to holy cere- 
monies. Also was Jerome delegated to give court, 
audience,. and sentence on all difficulties and suits which 
might arise in the synods and provincial and national 

As at that period great was the variety of nations in 
which the Church of Christ had been scattered, and many 
were the errors that daily were springing up sown by the 
enemy in that celestial inheritance ; many the novelties 
introduced by men ambitious of making known their name 
by good or evil means, and also because to men of saintly 
life God had revealed things for the better adornment of 
His Church and her discipline, as well as for the explana- 
tion of the sacred Scriptures and the clearing up of certain 
points of the Catholic faith as were discussed in the 
synods ; from all which followed various contradictions and 
opinions, these as a consequence had to be submitted at 
once to Rome for solution and sentence. All these duties 
did the Pontiff impose on the saintly doctor, since all that 
he had to reply was to be replied by Jerome, and this was 
done by impressing on these replies his authority, con- 
firming and authorising with apostolic power ; thus all 
that passed by the judgment of Jerome was a sufficient 


act, and all that would be required, as though the 
decision had been approved by a full consistory of 
cardinals. For thus did it appear to Damasus, that a 
man of so much learning and signal sanctity, endowed 
with so vast a zeal for the honour and service of our Lord, 
and for the increase of the Catholic faith, was equal in 
sound judgment to many ; he being, so to say, a temple in 
himself wherein dwelt the Holy Ghost, Who would by his 
mouth give forth divine oracles and answers, as in former 
times the vessel of election, companion in the apostleship 
of St. Peter, had done. 

All this is meant and comprehended in those brief 
words : " Reply for Damasus in the ecclesiastical letters " ; 
and this is what is meant when he states that it was laid 
on him to reply to the synodal consultations that from the 
east and the west were forwarded to Pope Damasus, 
which was to say, from all the Church ; because in these 
two words the whole was comprehended, according to the 
language employed in those early days, similarly as St. 
Paul used to say "Jews and Greeks" 1 when he wished to 
signify the whole world. 

Thus does the holy doctor manifest it when writing to 
Geruncia, 2 when in the course of the letter he says as 
follows : " When living in Rome, now many years back, I 
was assisting Damasus, the bishop of that city, in the letters 
which were written for the government and establishment of 
the Churches, it having been entrusted to my charge to reply 
to the consultations of all the synodal councils of the east and 
of the west." 

By this paragraph he clearly declares the office and 
charge laid upon him by Damasus, and that he was his 
only counsellor, and of his secret council to the whole 
cabinet and its adviser. The same is confirmed against 

1 Romans. 2 Epist. 11. 


the malice and calumny, or rather false testimony, Rufinus 
accuses him of, although disguising his name. The case 
was this. As he had been entrusted and charged with 
the great work of giving the rules and drawing up the 
resolutions in respect to what the heretics were to confess 
and do, when submitting and coming to be reconciled with 
the Church by subjecting themselves to the chair of St. 
Peter (this being in course of discussion by some of the 
Apollinarist heretics), Damasus summoned for this effect a 
synod in Rome, as mentioned by Haymo in lib. x. of his 
Memorials of Christian Things, and Theodoretus in lib. v. 
of his History, cap. ix. 

When the rule for the confession of faith which the 
Apollinarists were to make had been drawn up, which said 
rule had been arranged by our saint, as was his office to 
do, it was perceived he had put in a word that he judged 
opportune to be set in the confession of faith respecting 
the incarnation of our Redeemer, calling Him Homo 
Dominions. The Apollinarists were scandalised at this 
term, and reprobated the novelty of this manner of speech. 
Our saintly doctor being present at the time, proved to 
them that many learned and saintly doctors had employed 
the term, and that they had no cause to reprehend him or 
call it a new thing, and ordered the works of St. Athanasius 
to be brought before him, and showed them that he 
employed the same manner of speech and self-same word 
which they had objected to. They cunningly besought him 
to lend the volume in order to peruse it, and confute 
others with it, if perchance they should judge it wrong. 
He gave up the volume without suspecting the malice 
they had at heart. When the book was returned he found 
that the portion referred to had been scratched out, in 
order that no authority of St. Athanasius should be found 
for the two words Homo Dominicus. Over the portion 


scratched out they had again written the said words, so 
that when the text should be again sought for they should 
be able to allege that this had been added on by Jerome, 
not by St. Athanasius. Once, being at supper, St. Jerome 
recounted the episode to his friend Rufinus. From this 
Rufinus took occasion to show that in the book of Origen 
the heretics had introduced many things, or he had done 
so, and the books were falsified, a thing which had never 
passed Jerome's mind to do. This case is maliciously 
brought forward by Rufinus as a testimony and proof, 
accusing the saint and alleging that it would be cruel not 
to believe this to have been the fact in the books of 
Origen, where he had exercised much diligence in dis- 
covering the malice of the Apollinarists, and infers that if 
there are evils in the books of Origen and heresies, as 
Jerome says, that it was in this way that they were intro- 
duced. In order to come to this he commences with these 
words, which are to our purpose. 1 " Damasus, bishop, 
having to resolve and deliberate on the manner how 
to receive the Apollinarists, charged a priest, a great 
friend of his, a most learned man, to whom he had 
entrusted these affairs, to dictate and draw up the 
Confession of Faith which the Apollinarists were to 
subscribe to and sign." Then follows the above-said 

What has been said suffices for our purpose, and we 
shall continue our history. Therefore, returning to it, we 
find our saint in Rome, burthened with occupations and 
grave matters, set up in the pinnacle of high opinion and 
reputation, that, were it any one else but Jerome, he would 
assuredly have lost his head. 

Meanwhile that he is thus occupied, it appertains to 
history, and even a principal part of it, to examine what 

1 Rufin. in Fine Apol. pro Origen, ad Machar. 


may the dignity be in which he is placed, and in what con- 
sists the importance of his office. Whether it is equal to 
being a cardinal, whether he was in truth raised to that 
dignity, whether in those days there were cardinals, a 
question which is doubtful. 


St. Jerome a Cardinal. The antiquity of this Dignity is 
proved. Herein is declared the Name and Office. 

It is a matter of no importance whatever to saints, nor 
does it affect them in any way, to hold, or to be deprived 
of titles and dignities on which the world sets such regard. 
The aim of perfection depends on the virtues, principally 
charity and the love of God, and one's neighbour : let not 
this be lost to them, for as regard the rest they always 
avoid them. I have touched upon this in other places, yet 
it is of importance to repeat it often for the disillusion of 
many — that the dignities and offices of the Church are 
holy ministries and offices given and ordained by the Holy 
Ghost. For which reason is He invoked when men fill 
them, because they are his ministries which they exercise, 
although it is men who ordain them. These gifts do not 
make the holders saints, nor just men, nor friends of God, 
nor perfect men, in proof of which do we see many placed 
in high dignities who have God very far from them, and 
withdrawn from their hearts, and they only have from God 
the dignity they exercise. Let Judas be an example (so 
as not to quote others nearer our time) in apostolic 
dignity, elected by Christ Himself, yet who presently put 
Him up to barter, an ungrateful, wicked and disloyal man, 
and accepted the price of his perfidy, money which proved 



his ruin. After him there have followed such a crowd, 
that even the very thought is enough to make one shudder 
and grieve the soul. What makes men saints and the 
friends of God, and sets man above the stars, is the spirit 
of sanctifk'ation, the planting of the divine gift in the 
soul, which St. James calls perfect and excellent, which 
carries in its train a great abundance of riches, distributed 
as it pleases Him and as He wills. 

Of this gift of sanctification a great portion fell to our 
Doctor, as from the narrative we have already traced can 
be perceived of his life, and which God communicated to 
him in full ; but from this point to which we have come, 
the fact will be more clearly and forcibly seen of the 
wonderful treasures of grace granted to him. " Open thy 
mouth and thou shalt be filled." Or, as in common 
parlance is expressed, that his mouth was his measure. 
And thus does it occur to such as follow the service of 
God in truth, and who cast themselves into it with 
determined hearts, confiding chivalrously in His bounty; 
as, for example, the labourers of the New Testament, who, 
without being equal, despite that in the last hour they 
went to labour in the vineyard, and even for this very 
reason were paid the first. 

All things came to Jerome at the request of his mouth 
in these kinds of gifts ; those others who are of the out- 
side proceed by another way. And it is the will of God 
that dignities and ministries of the Church, forasmuch as 
they are holy, should be held by saintly ministers ; and 
when he permits the reverse it is as a particular punish- 
ment. The saints are confirmed in them, and remain 
authoritatively apportioned to them, and their persons are 
esteemed on account of their dignities, and with them they 
win over souls when their lives correspond to their offices ; 
and to the contrary, they lose all if each pulls his way 


until there remains constructed a monster more strange 
than the chimera of the dialecticians and of the poets. 
Respect is lost to the dignity, and they are disdained and 
despised; the person is scorned, and all things are 

It is clear that the Chair of the Supreme Pontificate 
claims respect, and men reverence it when they see it 
occupied by a St. Gregory and a Leo I., and hundreds of 
others of that kind; while, to the contrary, the dignity 
becomes lowered when filled by one who is a victim to his 
ambition, to his passions and low appetites. And if in 
this one position the truth of what is advanced is clearly 
verified, what must it be in the case of others of inferior 
grade? Hence, the dignity and office of Cardinal is no 
little enhanced and glorified, and with noble respect its 
authority established, through St. Jerome having been 
a Cardinal. The heretics, together with other evil- 
intentioned men, wished that in the affairs of the Church 
and its hierarchy there should be nothing found of im- 
portance, or any one holding office different from their 
own manner of life, in order that either by reason of their 
freedom in vice, or from their wish to dissolve the harmony 
of this mystical body, they should have a better entrance. 1 
For this reason all heretics of that time and of later 
periods have affirmed that St. Jerome was not a 
Cardinal, and that the idea of Cardinals in the Church is a 
new invention, both in the office and in the name. Lastly, 
they hold it an absurdity to confer this dignity on the 
saint, and to depict him in its robes and insignias. Against 
these men, whether they be ignorant of ecclesiastical history 
or evil-minded towards it, I wish to prove, in the first place, 
the antiquity and age of the office and name of Cardinal to 
be more ancient than that of the time of St. Jerome; 

1 Calvin, Carolus Molt. Eras, et alii. 


secondly, what the office of Cardinal meant in those days 
and what it is now ; that St. Jerome was a Cardinal, and 
that it is no improper thing to depict him with the insignias 
of the said office. Many have treated this subject with 
great erudition, and this will be my reason for omitting 
many things which the subject would compel me to treat 
upon had it not been thoroughly discussed already. 
I will therefore confine myself to stating the chief 

Some have gone so far as to assert that the office 
is as ancient as the time of Moses, 1 and equivalent to the 
position of the Seventy Elders who in the synagogue had 
assisted him in its government. And forasmuch as this 
Church was a continuation of the former one, so also has 
been continued the dignity and the office, although in the 
number there may exist a difference. Innocent III. 2 is of 
this opinion, and with him concurred Sixtus V., who 
ordained that the College of Cardinals should not exceed 
seventy-two. Other authors moderate this view, and say 
that they took the place of the apostles with Christ, for in 
the same way as they assisted Him, and He would reveal 
to them His secrets, expounding and declaring the 
prophesies to them, employing them in His ministry 
in many things, and even asked them questions and 
opinion, without it being at all necessary (in order to 
afford St. Peter a form or example to follow later on). 
Thus it was done, and hence the Prince of the Apostles 
introduced this rule. This was observed by St. Antoninus 
of Florence and others. 8 All this is true and substantial 
in good sense. But let us come to the fact without 
allegories or figures. In the Council of Rome, which was 

1 Deut xxi. 

2 Innocent III., cap. Per Venerabilem. Cardinalis Paleotus in lib. De Consist. 

3 St Antonin. 3, p. tit. 24. Turrecrem, lib. I. De Eccksiast. c 8. August, de 
Ancon. q. 101. 


convened by St. Silvester (should no other proof exist), in 
Canon 6, it is clearly stated that there were seven cardinal 
deacons in the Roman Church, and neither the title nor 
office was invented in that Council, for it was a thing 
established long before, as an ancient thing ; and in this 
Council it is simply ordained that, besides three cardinal 
deacons of the Church of Rome, there should be other 
deacons appointed for the examination of the parishes. 
From this, then, let those be convinced who say that in the 
time of St. Jerome no such number of cardinals existed, as 
well as those who affirm that this name is not more ancient 
than from the time of St. Gregory, and that even then the 
bishops held this name, because as often as cardinals were 
named no mention was made of those of the Roman Church, 
but of others, hence it was no more to say cardinal priest 
than to say bishop. Both these statements are fallacies, 
and far removed from the truth, as will be apparent to any 
one. From the same Council, as regards the first, the 
contrary is proved, as we have seen, and with regard to 
St. Gregory, it is made manifest, in lib. v. letter 11 to 
Fortunatus, Bishop of Naples, where mention is made of 
the cardinal deacons, and in lib. xi. letter 34 mention is made 
of cardinal priests. John, deacon, in lib. iii. of the Life 
of St. Gregory, gives the number of bishops whom the saint 
consecrated cardinal priests. Polidorus Virgilius 1 says 
that this office and dignity had its commencement in 
St. Evaristus, a Greek, and his father, a native of 
Bethlehem, in the year 112 after the birth of our Lord, 
because he was the first who divided the offices, I mean 
the titles to the priests, and constituted, on the example 
of the apostles, seven deacons. Following Evaristus, 
later on Dionysius and Marcellus Popes imitated him, by 
enlarging on this ; for thus does Damasus describe it, and 

1 Polid. Vir. lib. 4, cap. 9. 


later on still, Platina. Others agree with Polidorus. 1 As 
to what he subsequently adds, that in the time of St. 
Jerome, although the office existed there was not that grand 
name attached to it of cardinal, he is greatly mistaken, 
as we have seen, because the name and the office come 
from undoubtedly farther back, and as we touched upon, 
the ministry of cardinals descends from the apostles, and 
the view of the authors who agree with Polidorus in the first 
is confirmed by a letter of St. Ignatius to the Italians wherein 
he says as follows : " What else is the priesthood but 
a holy institution of conciliators (conciliarios) and confessors 
of the bishops." Many know what Raphael Volaterranus 2 
also tells us of some ancient tablets which he found in the 
Church of Arezzo, on which was inscribed a donation made 
by Zenobius, a Roman senator, to the Church itself in the 
time of Damasus, where occurs the following superscription 
and approbation : Et Ego Joan, S. R. E. Diaconus Cardin- 
alis ex parte Damasi Pontificis laudo et confirmo. 

Should we desire to carry this argument on to its end 
and investigate the origin of the word cardinal, it would not 
be easy to find the root and principle. Some, indeed nearly 
all, reduce it to the Greek term which means cardia, from 
whence was derived the Latin cor, which is the heart, because 
the heart is the seat and principle of life ; this in truth is 
not at variance with the dignity and office of cardinals, since 
these are close to the principle and seat of. the Church, 
from whence must come forth, through her council, the vital 
spirit which has to govern the whole of her body. 

Let us proceed to examine what is the office and the 
points of its ministry. To my mind these points are three. 
First, what is common to bishops, priests, and deacons, 

1 Guido Archid. in Commen. in sextum Juris Pontine. Francis Zabarellus. 
Raymundus Rufus contra Molinum. 

2 Volat. lib. 22, Antrop. 


because the one who is to be raised to the cardinalate must 
hold one of these three offices. Secondly, the right and 
charge of electing the supreme pontiff; and the third and 
chief office, and the one most difficult, is that of being of 
the conclave and council of the Pope, to give his opinion 
always whensoever it be necessary, and always to the 
advantage of the Church without any human respect, 
although by so doing he should lose his life. No one 
doubts that these three offices are of very ancient origin, 
and that they have come down in perpetual action from 
the apostles. But it is not a custom of very great antiquity, 
although now in use, for cardinals alone to make election 
of Popes, and for them alone to assist at the council and the 
general government of the Church. Forasmuch as in 
early times there were but few priests and deacons, all 
gathered together to the election who were summoned to 
the assemblies and councils. Nor was there any necessity 
to distinguish cardinals from those that were not cardinals, 
similarly as in the other Churches the canons were not 
distinguished from the non-canons. 

From this in a brief manner is made manifest the 
antiquity, name, purpose, and office of cardinals, and that 
it dates far before the time of St. Jerome, and as a con- 
sequence is deduced from his own words what has been 
advanced that the saintly doctor had been cardinal priest 
of Rome. And the reason is manifest. A man who 
was- so beloved by Damasus, and in whom he so fully 
trusted (indeed to whom he trusted everything), of whom 
the saint himself said that Damasus did nothing, nor said 
anything, but what he ordered, in the following words : 1 
"Damasus, of blessed memory, was nothing more than what 
I said" What less could he do than confer on him this 
dignity ? A man upon whom all eyes in the city of Rome 

1 Epist. 99, ad Asell. 


were turned, of whom it was publicly said that, after 
St. Damasus, he would succeed to the chair of the 
Supreme Pontiff, as one most worthy of it, for he himself 
was aware of this, since in the same epistle we find these 
words : "All the votes and wishes of the city concurred in me, 
and by the judgment and approbation of all worthy of the 
supreme priesthood." What possible doubt could there 
exist that he had been created a cardinal? It is as clear 
as the sun. Moreover, in those days nearly always were 
the popes elected from among cardinals, and Damasus 
himself had been a cardinal, as is asserted by Onophrius. 
To Jerome alone had been entrusted to answer all doubts 
that arose in the synods or were sent to them for solution ; 
he had been charged by the same Damasus to draw up 
the form and order of procedure which heretics who 
came to be reconciled were to follow, and what they were 
to confess and to abjure, and can it be called in question 
whether he was a cardinal ? It is manifest that whatever 
offices cardinals were called upon to fulfil, he had held 
them all. That Jerome was a priest is proved, and it 
was no impediment that he had been ordained in Antioch 
to be priest of Rome, for Pope Damasus had need of 
such a man of importance to act for him juridically and with 
greater advantage to himself, a thing he could better do 
when invested with the dignity of cardinal, so that in the 
councils and assemblies his vote should carry authority, 
and this alone would be a sufficient reason. This dignity 
enabled him to be in the government of ecclesiastical 
affairs, and to be also the counsellor of the Pope (which is 
the proper office and ministry of cardinals), all this was 
verified in Jerome, for not only did he do this, similarly as 
other cardinals, but it, moreover, appears that he was alone, 
and had been invested with the whole charge, and, as it 
were, he was the pivot and hinge upon which all things 


depended. That he was present at, and took part in, the 
election of the Pope I have clear evidence, since at the 
death of Damasus (for he died before Jerome left Rome) 
he voted in the election of Siricius, who was chosen at 
once, and to his vote must have been in great part due his 
election to the Chair. Hence he exercised all the offices, 
and in all that constitutes being a cardinal he was first. 

There now remains the third point — the dress — the 
insignia of the purple in the robe and in the hat. To 
such as say that it is an absurdity to depict St. Jerome in 
them, we reply that it is ignorance to suppose that these 
are of recent introduction, and dates no farther back than 
the times of Benedict VIII. That these are new in regard 
to St. Jerome I acknowledge ; but they are in error to 
ascribe them to the time of Benedict, since it stands 
proved by hundreds of authors that Innocent IV., about 
the year 1254, ordered in the Council of Lyons that 
cardinals should wear thepileus (red hat), which is the cap 
or hat which in Castilian is called sombrero, of red colour, 
and that they should ride palfrey horses. Thus is it related 
to us by Volaterranus, 1 Onophrius Genebrardus, Martin 
Polonius, and others. In doing this the Pope not only 
wished to confirm the dignity and distinguish it, but also 
to signify by it that should it be necessary to lay down 
life and limb and shed blood for the Church, by fighting 
for her, the office held by the cardinal would compel him 
to do so. That period of history was a time when this 
was not unusual, on account of the great persecution which 
the Emperor Frederick II. was waging on the Church. 
Subsequently, in the year 1464, Paul II., who was a 
Venetian (the last of whom Platina writes about, and from 
whom he experienced many trials), on account of having 
to appear in public ceremonials with much pomp and glory, 

1 Volat. lib. 22, Onoph. in Pal. Genebr. in Cronet. 


and not wishing to seem as though he alone desired to 
distinguish himself, added much to the pageantry in the 
apparel of the cardinals. He first ordered, under heavy 
penalties, that none should wear the red hat or scarlet 
but the cardinals, and that the robes, apparel, and the 
trappings of the horses should be of the same colour ; 
hence all this ornateness and colouring dates only from 
this epoch, which was a thousand years after St. Jerome, 
and therefore they say it is quite out of place to paint or 
depict him robed in all the insignia of a cardinal. I say 
that they would have reason for this objection if the 
licence of painters were a new thing and peculiar to this 
case, and were there not an infinite number of things of 
this kind accepted. Who doubts that cardinals, bishops, 
cardinal priests, and deacons had some robe or distinctive 
sign by which they were distinguished from the others, 
more especially when they exercised their offices in the 
Church ? As for myself, I hold it as certain. But granted 
that, on account of the simplicity of the early times, they 
did not exist, at least when the numbers increased and the 
authority and dignity were established no one will deny that 
the dress existed. Let us admit that it was not so. How 
can we now depict them when all the dignities have their 
distinctive robes, such as lived in those remote ages (who 
no doubt were about the same), to such as only read with 
the eyes according to what they see in use in the churches ? 
How can the masses to whom pictures are of great use 
know that St. Peter was pope, St. Stephen and St. Law- 
rence deacons, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine bishops, 
unless by depicting them according to their rank and in 
the emblems of their dignities ? Forsooth, in the time of 
St. Peter were there tiaras and mitres such as he is depicted 
with now ? Were there, perchance, in the time of St. 
Stephen dalmatics, albs, girdles, as we are shown ; or even 


in the time of St. Lawrence, less than 300 years later ? Are 
they, forsooth, improperly depicted ? That men who are 
heretics should question this because they are not pleased 
at any distinction of the Church, not even the pictures of 
the saints, I can understand, but the faithful have no reason 
for so doing. Hence, as St. Jerome in those early days 
filled the same office as is discharged in our days by 
cardinals, it is quite proper that he should be depicted 
clothed in the same robes, in order that all should under- 
stand the rank he held in the Church. From which also 
is seen how well established it was in all hearts that St. 
Jerome was a cardinal, since as soon as the Popes had 
portioned out their insignia to the cardinals he was vested 
in them, as is proved by the ancient pictures of the saint 
throughout the world. 

Without any manner of doubt the insignia of the office 
fit him well, and none better ; and despite the authors 
already quoted should not have afforded us another reason 
for cardinals being invested in galerus, petesus, or capellus 
of wide brim and of a red colour, but to signify that they 
had to lay down their life and limb for Jesus Christ 
and His Church ; yet I believe there were many other 
considerations and motives for this insignia, which has 
already been made the device of cardinals, and in an 
especial manner of St. Jerome, for on seeing a capellus in 
an escutcheon men at once recognise it as his arms and 
device. In order to signify what has been said, any sort 
of red cap would suffice, but to make a hat of such extensive 
brim, straight and wide, which greatly resembles the wand 
(caduceus) of Mercury (supposed by the ancients to be the 
messenger of the gods), was not done without judgment 
and reflection. Without doubt it was the most skilled and 
significative device which could be given to cardinals 
with the object of signifying to them the obligations 


of the office, and that they should read them in their 

The ancients supposed that Mercury was the messenger 
between the gods and men, and that he came and went 
with their messages, and arranged treaties of peace and gave 
advice. They put wings on his shoes, and in his hand a 
wand in which two serpents were twined, on his head the 
galerus of large lappets and two wings. Putting aside what 
profane writers may say concerning this, I will confine 
myself to what concerns our purpose, by saying that all 
this fits well to all prelates and all such as hold the office 
of mediators between God and men, and with greater 
advantages and propriety to the cardinals. These, like to 
such as have wings to their feet, are not to plant them on 
the ground : their affections must be well lifted up, their 
footsteps very swift for the things of heaven, because for 
the things of the world there is no need of wings ; the 
force of gravity itself of the human heart presses down 
and bends towards earth. It is necessary that they should 
rise from earth with light wings, and say with the apostle 
(whom some have called Mercury), 1 " Our conversation is 
in heaven." On the head is set the large capellus, because 
it is in the brain that reason has its seat, and it is meet 
that it should be well guarded and strengthened ; because 
if this part be not in health the man is no longer man. 
The part that is most noble, called mind, mente, or mens 
(from whence some nations derive the name of man, calling 
him mensck, which means a thing which governs itself), 
must have the capellus, in order to comprehend that, on 
having this part guarded and safe, the whole man remains 
free of the ailments and the sicknesses which disturb the 
whole scheme of the due government of human life, 
and likewise also, that thereby they should be known as 

1 Actor. 


being Mercuries between God and the rest of men, their 
office being to declare the divine will to mortals. Such 
should be the men upon whose head is placed the red hat, 
the token and insignia of peace, for without first knowing 
the divine will, and they themselves carrying it out by 
deeds, it is impossible they should attain to it. It is said 
that Mercury 1 would descend flying, and perch first on 
some high mountain, and from thence come down to men. 
Similarly does the royal Prophet sing, " Let the mountains 
receive peace for the peoples." These are the high moun- 
tains of the Church, the cardinals and pastors, whereupon 
peace must first be planted, and a channel down which 
thousands of gifts are to descend from heaven, enclosed 
all within this peace. All to be effected at the cost of 
their blood and their life, since this is what is declared by 
the red hat. It would be simply superfluous to enlarge 
on how fittingly all this apparel suits our glorious doctor ; 
and this is what it is to be a cardinal (for in truth it is 
nothing else), and I do not know whether there has lived 
any cardinal to equal him. 2 

Great and precious pearls, diamonds, and rubies has 
the Church possessed among her princes in this dignity, 
by which she has remained beautiful and robed in celestial 
apparel, because, despite that numerically they have not 
been many, yet it is a subject of marvel the greatness and 
multitude of renowned men who have come forth from 
that college : but few of these can equal St. Jerome ; 
none surpass him, none with greater propriety can more 
fittingly wear the insignia — energetic in the cause of the 
Church and her defence, exponent of the divine will, 
a great counsellor, and now mediator between God 
and man. 

1 Virgil, 4 sEneid. 
2 Cardinalis Paleotus, lib. De consuta Consib. com. ult menb. 3. 




In order to understand the excellence of this age, it 
suffices to see that man, when he arrives at the perfection 
of his being, is called by the name of man. Or if we wish 
to express it, as dialecticians say, " a priori" this state 
which constitutes the best of his manhood is called virility, 
from " vir." The Hebrew language, which is the mother 
of all languages, possesses four names by which in the 
sacred writings man is signified to us. The first is Adam, 
the second End, the third Guibor, the fourth Is ; and all 
these names have a particular meaning, showing us some 
one thing in the state of man. The name Adam puts 
before us the matter from which he was formed, a madder- 
coloured earth, or reddish, and the word in Latin, " homo" 
from humus, is rightly well used, which answers to this, it 
means to say a " thing of earth." Holy Scripture always 
employs this word whenever it wishes to signify the state 
to which man degenerated after the sin, according to St. 
Paul : the first man was of earth, earthly ; and in order to 
signify to us a thing opposed to God, according to that 
text of the Prophet, Egypt, man and not God. Of that 
happy first state in which God created man no particular 
term has remained to us. The second, which is En6, is 
the same as in the vernacular, and what in Latin is termed 
mortal, signifies what is "sickly, weak, fragile, miserable" ; 
thus we see the inheritance of Adam, its name, and the 



first man. In this sense is found the term Eno, according 
to the words of Job : " War and fighting is the life of 
End, of the mortal man upon earth," and similarly in a 
number of other places. Guibor comes as the third name, 
and means "strong, robust, powerful, and eminent," whether 
in wealth, strength, ability, skill; according to the Psalm, 
Quique terrigence, et filii, hominum simul in unum dives et 
pauper,, thus calling ordinary people and men terrigence, 
and to the great and powerful filii Guiborim. The last 
name is Is, and by this is signified what is excellent and 
excelling in man, virility, as though we should say, the 
efficiency of all that be most perfect in him, and the same 
as is expressed in Latin by the word vir, and in Castilian 
by varon. Both terms in Latin and in Hebrew indicate 
all that is truly manly and masculine, in contradistinction 
to what is feminine. In order that we may well under- 
stand the divine letters, it is of no small importance for us 
to remember the distinction between these four names, 
which oftentimes, without distinction, is expressed by one 
only word, man, although the significations are so distinct, 
and as a consequence the sense is varied. Which inter- 
pretation never will be apprehended except by those who 
have had some knowledge of the holy language. Into 
this age of Is, that of manhood, did our doctor now enter. 
But yet he must have been well advanced in its perfection 
of manhood, because, according to our computation, when 
he came to Rome he must have entered the thirty-sixth or 
thirty-seventh year of his age, the full-grown age, wherein 
he will nobly manifest the fulness of his age by his 
fortitude, his constancy, his virtue, his excellence ; for all 
these qualities are presupposed and enclosed in what we 
call manhood or virility. 

Cicero says that from this name of vir is derived the 
name of " virtue," because it is what most beautifies and 

PROEM 257 

elevates man. This term virtue in man comprehends all 
that there is of good and of greatness in man ; it implies 
prudence, rectitude, temperance, fortitude, modesty, 
magnanimity, constancy, and integrity in all encounters 
and difficulties, and many other virtues. 

Right well, indeed, will our saint at this age manifest 
to us all the above-said attributes, and even other more 
heroic and lofty virtues ; grandly will he show his virility, 
and that he is truly of cardinal and venerable dignity. 
High dignities will not alter him, for, generally speaking, 
dignities reveal the man. So long as a man leads a 
retired, private life, he can easily dissimulate and hide his 
inclinations, his genius, or his habits ; but when he comes 
forth to high position, his strength and his powers run a 
race with his desires and inclinations, and in that crucible 
is proved the refined gold. 

It has been well said that dignities change a man 
and manifest what he is and his ways of life. 1 And of 
St. Jerome we may truly say more, viz., that the dignity 
manifested how great he was, and he himself illustrated 
how grand is the dignity, because it did not make him 
diminish a single point in his sanctity, in his rigorous 
penance and severity with himself; and he was in Rome 
as cardinal what he was in Syria as a monk ; while he 
exemplified what was in truth the dignity of cardinal, to 
what noble virtues it obliges him who takes the dignity. 
Virtue and virility is signified by the growth of beard, in 
the common acceptation of all nations which are cultured ; 
and though the beard grows in youth, it yet never attains 
perfection until manhood. Hence, for this reason, it is my 
belief that our Jerome is always depicted with a long 
beard, in order that we should understand that he never 
declined from his noble state of manhood and of virtue. 

1 Plutar. in Vita Cicer. Plutus, in Praceptis civilibus de Epimacho. 



It is related of the cynic Diogenes that he never allowed 
his beard to be shorn, declaring that he wore it long in 
order to be ever reminded that he was a man, and that it 
was as unbecoming for a man to clip it as for a lion to 
have its mane shorn off. David would not permit his 
ambassadors to appear before him beardless who had been 
shaven by Ammon Ammonita, until their beards should have 
grown again ; because, according to Eucherius, it signified 
(besides ignorance) that they had returned without virtue, 
without strength, and without valour. And thus does it 
happen to such as leave the path of virtue through some 
unworthy motive or deceit of the devil, that they de- 
generate from their former state of manliness, and render 
themselves unworthy of appearing in the presence of God. 
All this is far removed from Jerome ; no encounter will 
make him fall, nor will he lose a single hair of his beard, 
despite all the warfare which the enemy may wage against 
him. We may safely place our greatest confidence in him, 
for never did he allow his beard to be shorn, nor was any 
one ever to take a part in despoiling him (since it is 
dangerous to attempt to clip a lion that is wide awake), 
and never will he be denied to enter the presence of God. 
Let us, then, in this fourth book of his life, and more 
leisurely, consider and reveal him as a grand man in 
the Church which he adorned so highly, and defended 
as a valorous, strong, and robust man, excelling all by 
his great skill. 


St. Jerome establishes the Order of Divine Worship in 
Rome, and draws up the Holy Ceremonies of the 
Church. He prescribes the " Alleluia " to be sung in 
the Roman Liturgy. 

Although St. Jerome had so much occupation in Rome 
fulfilling the offices of cardinal and chancellor, nevertheless 
he so thoroughly discharged the duties relating to his 
sacred priesthood and ministry that it would seem he had 
naught else to attend to. I do not wish in this discourse 
to treat of those duties which related to him as Doctor of 
the Church, but only of those labours which, as a good 
priest, he fulfilled, leaving aside all others for future 
discourses. It seems impossible that one man could have 
attended to so much, and have done so many things 
with such thoroughness. I believe it was because, as 
his food was scanty, his allotted time for sleep so short, he 
had time for what would appear no time could be enough. 
He said mass very frequently, and with all the devotion 
and fervour which can be imagined in so saintly a soul. 
Our Lord during these performances gave him great 
lights for all things, and favoured him with many graces 
and favours, as His Divine Majesty is wont to do on 
behalf of such like servants of His, who, fully aware of 
what they are called to do, prepare first their soul, most 



earnestly awaiting the coming of so great a Bridegroom. 
And as the reverence for, and fear of, so much majesty 
absorbs their minds, turning their eyes to their own 
littleness and vileness, they empty themselves of all that 
they have within them, so that nothing should embarrass 
them, in order that such royal eyes be not offended 
and their capacity be not curtailed. Hence, when He 
enters these, He enriches them with His presence, 
and leaves them replete with His gifts. In this way 
do saints grow in grace ; in this way are they made 
so great that, compared with them, the rest bear no pro- 
portion whatever ; as the astrologers say that the earth 
bears no comparison with the heavens, similarly do these 
men of heaven bear an immeasurable advantage to worldly 
ones. This kept our saint in a continual guard in all 
things — custody of the eyes, great prudence and con- 
sideration in his words, his intercourse and conversation. 
He feared lest there should enter in by these windows, 
unless well guarded, what in the time of need would 
suffice to close the gates to the coming of God. Thus 
did he himself express it in the Epitaph of Marcella: 1 
" / proceeded with great modesty in my eyes, in order not to 
look on the Roman matrons." 

It is a very difficult matter that the images of things 
seen which remain impressed in the soul, should not 
obstruct or intervene at the time when the priest needs 
to be gazing so closely upon Christ ; and it is a great 
deceit and dangerous presumption to trust to one's self, 
and make so little account of God, as to think that He 
will establish in them His dwelling, and work the effects 
which from His corporeal presence is assumed, they 
themselves doing nothing on their part to warrant such a 
hope ; for they have thought it of small moment that the 

1 Epist. 1 6. 


dwelling should be well guarded and prepared for His 
coming, nor even when He is within (which is worse) do 
they linger a moment to thank Him for His coming, nor 
to ask of Him those mercies which they might have 
obtained by some of these efforts. And the truth of all 
this is apparent to many of us ; for, after many years' 
enjoyment of these great benefits, we find ourselves buried 
in the deepest poverty. Nor can I persuade myself that 
so great a treasure, if it were within, could possibly remain 
so concealed that it should of itself afford so few or no 
proofs of its dwelling there. It is impossible that a bright 
fire, so many times multiplied, should not warm and shed 
its radiance on all objects around — that so brilliant a 
light should not diffuse a reflection, for this is its principal 
effect, and the sun itself does not wish to be obscured, but 
that it should be seen by its works and effects, and glory 
be given to the Father of the light which is in the heavens, 
and be declared, " This is the chaste generation which the 
Lord has blessed." This was seen in St. Jerome, who 
came forth from that sacred banquet " like a lion darting 
gleams of fire from his mouth " (for thus does St. 
Chrysostom declare of good communicants), turning for 
the divine honour, appalling to devils, unbearable to the 
bad. 1 In memory of this and as most precious relics and 
of great esteem does the city of Rome preserve the chalice 
in which St. Jerome consecrated, and it is shown to the 
people with great reverence, together with the chasuble 
which he wore. Perchance this may be the same chasuble 
which was sent to him by his great friend Nepotian, 
nephew of Heliodorus, when at the point of death, as a 
precious legacy in proof of his friendship. The saint 
himself says in the epitaph which he subsequently wrote 
upon him, and dedicated to the said uncle : " Tears are 

1 Marianus, in Vita D. Hieronymi. 


coursing down my cheeks, and despite that I wish to 
resist them with the Spirit, I cannot disguise the sorrow 
I feel. Who would have thought that Nepotian, placed at 
the point of death, should have remembered my friend- 
ship ? and that his soul, being in agony, should not have 
forgotten the sweetness of our desire ? And taking the 
hand of his uncle, he said : ' This chasuble which I used in 
the holy ministry of the altar of Christ, send it to my 
beloved, in age my father, and in office my brother, and 
by all the affection that you bear to your nephew, pass 
it on to him whom you love on an equality with me.' 
Saying these words he swooned away, grasping the hand 
of his uncle and bearing me in his memory." 1 He was in 
an extreme manner tender towards his friends ; and it 
seemed as friend after friend departed, that he himself 
expired with each, and their memory was always present 
with him. He was skilful in handling all things that were 
under his care and that appertained to the divine worship, 
keeping them all scrupulously clean. He considered that 
the church was the palace of the most exalted of kings, 
and the table that of the greatest of lords. He well knew 
the respect described in the Old Testament for the holy 
of holies, which was no more than the shadow of these 
present things, and he judged that all diligence was all too 
little. He could not endure those who on this point were 
careless and without decorum, and therefore to the 
contrary he experienced great delight when he found 
any one who excelled in these matters ; he greatly 
admired this same priest Nepotian for this quality of 
circumspection and carefulness in his office. 

In the same Epistle 2 he says a little above: "In 
comparison to what we have said little can I add ; but in 

1 Epist. 3, c. 6, ad Heliod. 
2 Epist. 3, c. 5. 


small things is made manifest the inclination and the 
spirit. Because in the same manner as we judge the 
Creator admirable, not only in the heavens and on the 
earth, in the sun and in the ocean, in the elephant, camel, 
horses, buffaloes, tigers, bears, and lions, so also in the 
smaller form of the animal kingdom — such as the ant, the 
fly, the caterpillar, and insects and grubs, which we know 
better by their forms than by their names, and examining 
each we are struck with admiration and reverence at the 
skill of the Great Artificer, so also does the soul that is 
truly dedicated to Christ, careful of what is great and 
what is small, because it knows that even of one idle 
word it will have to give an account. Therefore he was 
careful that the altar should be very clean, that there be 
no speck of dust on the walls, that the floor be well swept ; 
the doorkeeper to assist at the doors and watch assiduously, 
that the tabernacle and sacristy be properly cleaned, the 
vessels thoroughly washed, and all the ceremonies per- 
formed with pious solicitude and diligence. He did not 
neglect either the greatest or the smallest office ; and when- 
ever you sought for him you would always find him in the 
church. The side chapels in the church, the sepulchres 
and altars of the martyrs, he would adorn with a variety 
of flowers, branches, the fresh green shoots of the vine, so 
that the whole was decorated with loving care and by the 
labour of his hands. I have inserted this here, not only 
because in itself it breathes all that is fresh, beautiful, and 
comely, and that we may see what was the care and pious 
inclination our saint had towards all these things (which in 
truth was my purpose), but that in passing we should 
consider how impious are those 1 who reprehend all they 
see in the church of holy ceremonies and ornamentation, 
saying that all these things are novelties and of little 

1 Fere omnes haeretici a Vigilantio usque ad impium Kemnicium. 


fruit, whereas these have been in use from primitive 
ages, fostered and increased, and well established, 
and received, since the time of St. Jerome, down to 
the present time — even the smallest customs — a 
truth proved learnedly by those who have written 
treatises in defence of this truth against the monsters 
of these times. It is through St. Jerome being so 
particular and strict on the things appertaining to the 
Divine worship that it has resulted, as though by inherit- 
ance, that his Order and spiritual sons are distinguished by 
this same love of cleanliness and extreme care in the 
Divine service, and even so they consider themselves far 
behind what ought to be. It fosters devotion to witness 
the neatness and spotless cleanliness of the altars, sacris- 
ties, and temples of this Order ; whilst it altogether 
destroys devotion to see the neglect of all these qualities 
in many places of worship, and in a matter where all 
care is insufficient, and it is a true inference what the 
interior life of the soul must be when the outside is thus 

St. Jerome likewise set great diligence to improve and 
perfect the divine worship throughout the Roman Church, 
for which end he endeavoured to translate to her all the 
good usages and ceremonies which he had attentively 
observed in the Greek and oriental churches ; and from an 
expression of his, it appears that the custom of holding 
lighted candles when the Gospel is chanted was introduced 
by him, for he says it was in use in the oriental church, 
but does not say it was in use in those of Rome, to which 
said use he gave a very lofty signification ; and this custom, 
which has been brought down to our time, was no doubt 
his act. He had also observed that in the churches of 
Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and others the "Alleluia" 
was sung, and he therefore pleaded with the Pontiff 


Damasus that it should likewise be sung in Rome. St. 
Gregory the Great, in the Seventh Book of his Epistles, 
in the Epistle 65 to John, Bishop of Zaragoza, in Sicily, 
replying to the objections of some who deemed the 
manner of celebrating mass incorrect, on coming to 
the "Alleluia" says : " The singing of the Alleluia is a 
custom taken from the church of Jerusalem, according to 
the tradition and teaching of St. Jerome, since the time of 
St. Damasus, Pope, for thus is it affirmed by all." By 
these words St. Gregory manifested the great authority in 
which St. Jerome was held, and of what great value was 
the tradition which he had taught, and which had been 
handed down to his time. 

The reason which moved the holy doctor to introduce 
the chant of the " Alleluia " into the Latin Church was, I 
believe, not so much the desire that it should be similar 
to that of Jerusalem, where it had been taught by the 
Apostle St. James, and appears in his liturgy, nor that the 
Hebrew and Greek words should resound in the Roman, 
as on account of the lofty mystery which he was well 
aware was enclosed in those two terms, a Hebrew name 
and verb " Allelu-ia." 

A great deal was revealed concerning this word when 
he wrote to the noble matron Marcella, 1 who had asked him 
what meaning there was in some of the Hebrew words, 
such as "Alleluia," "Amen," Maranatha Ephod. He tells 
her that allelu-ia is equal to praise be to God, because that 
last part, ia, is in Hebrew one of the ten divine names 
employed by those who speak the language. In another 
Epistle to the same, 2 he declares Ia to be interpreted by 
the name of God. And when expounding those words of 
Isaiah, chapter xxvi., In Domino Deo forti in perpetuum, 
says that in Hebrew there are three names of God, the first 

1 Epist. 137, ad Marcel. 2 Epist. 136, ad Marcel. 


is la, the second Jehovah, the third Zuria. He says that the 
first part of Allelu-ia signifies invisible, the second ineffable, 
the third means robust. And in an Epistle, which is found 
among his works, written to Damasus, a very good reason 
is given, which, despite that the Epistle does not seem 
his, yet the argument is like to the saint's, that when we 
seek to praise God Incarnate with our voice, Alleluia is 
added to the Psalm ; and forasmuch as our doctor 1 affords 
us so often occasion to declare his motives, it will not be 
foreign to this purpose to add here something concerning 
the mystery which is enclosed in the Alleluia. That name 
so intimate and celebrated with the Hebrews of Jehovah, 
which through mystery and excellence is called by them 
Ineffable and nomen expositum, and among the Greeks 
tetragamaton, that is to say, of four letters, is called by 
them ineffable, not because, as some have said, they think 
that by it God is called as He is in Himself, because God 
has no name nor is there a symbol in all that is created, 
to embrace or comprehend what is a greatness without 

It is true to say that all other names by which God is 
named He Himself has communicated to His creatures, 
angels and men ; and that this one formed of the said four 
letters He has reserved for Himself; and this, not because 
it is so intimately His own, that it expresses what God is, 
but for other reasons. The simple reason of calling 
Himself Ineffable is because up to the present time it has 
not been written, nor can the manner of pronouncing 
it be properly written, nor is there a way in the 
divine letters, because the four with which it is written 
are not letters, which are pronounced singly among the 
Hebrews, but only by some differences of drawing the lips, 
to breathe in the air, and with the dots which were subse- 

1 Apiid Mar, 9, t. in tertia serie. 


quently added, to breathe out the same — a thing which few 
of those who know Hebrew recognise. 

From the observance of the holy Scriptures is gathered 
that when this name is met with in them it signifies God 
as a nature of eternal substance and essence, constant, 
invariable, of a most firm mercifulness, and that what He 
promises of good and salutary (to which He is most 
inclined by will) cannot even be deficient, nor be hindered 
by any circumstance whatever. This is what the ineffable 
name of Jehovah expresses, which name, although we may 
so pronounce it, is not its proper sound. It becomes oppor- 
tune to say this here, in order that we should understand 
that God gave this name to the children of Israel as a 
military countersign, a token or symbol, as a watchword 
among them by which they should be known, like the 
word given as a password to the armies in their watches, 
because as it had been promised to that people, and 
declared to them His will, a thing He never had done to 
other nations ; whensoever they called upon God under 
that name, they always named Him the God of the 
Promises, and whereas others have spoken of this, I come 
to my purpose. 

Of this name the two first letters are i, a, and stand 
the last in the said word Alleluia ; and when in the 
divine letters the name ia is placed in the praises of God, 
it gives us to understand not only God of the Promises but 
God who has fulfilled them, and carried them to due effect 
and the desired point ; and not as God who fulfilled them 
with a people and nation to whom had been given the 
name as a countersign, but as God and Lord so magnifi- 
cent and generous in fulfilling what He promises, that He 
has extended them to the whole world, to all peoples, and 
to all nations, and to all dwelling in the heavens and on 
the earth, so that all should praise and laud Him, acknow- 


ledge and glorify and adore Him. Hence, when in 
church is said Alleluia, it is with extreme brevity to 
declare Praise the Lord, which is His name, essence, and 
being. He Who promised His salvation and His treasures 
of good to one only nation, and brought them to a most 
happy fulfilment, and extending all these for the benefit 
of all men, and of all creatures that exist in heaven and 
on earth. And praising God and man, as said our saint, 
is nothing else but to laud the One Who, having 
promised to become man for the good of mankind, filled 
all things with His divine gifts, fulfilling with excess what 
He had promised. 

In order that it be seen how clearly this is manifest in 
the sacred writings, let it be recognised in the first place, 
that it will not be found in all the Books of Moses, unless I 
have not examined them aright, that this name la is once 
even mentioned, yet in the Psalms it is inserted many times ; 
this was as though to tell us that what had been given to 
the people by Moses, as regards what related to law and 
ceremony, was not what God had promised man, nor what 
He had intended to give them, nor would it stop here. It 
was no more than a shadow of the body and reality of what 
was promised. But in the Psalms, forasmuch as they are 
prophesies which sing of things as seen and executed, 
constant and eternal, the word la is repeated. Further- 
more, let it be considered that when the name is set in the 
Psalms it always speaks to the multitude of nations and 
peoples, and not alone to the people of Israel. In the 
Psalm Laudate Dominum omnes gentes ; laudate eum omnes 
populi, it ends with Allelu-ia ; because it contains naught else 
in the whole argument but what we have said. The same 
occurs in Psalm cii., after having said : Scribantur hcec in 
generatione altera; there is added and the people that shall 
be created, Alleluia. Observe also the Psalm cii., which 


commences, Laudate pueri Dominum, where in the epilogue 
is said He who maketh a barren woman to dwell in the 
house a joyful mother of children, Allelu-ia, and in many 
more of its kind. 

Hence, in view of the aforesaid, came truly from 
Heaven the inspiration and the motive our saint had for 
the Roman Church to sing what was so in keeping with 
herself, and from thence to spread throughout the world, 
as though from head to foot, the singing of this chant of 
joy, and not keep it enclosed solely in Jerusalem where 
the apostle had first ordered it should be sung. To that 
people and city was fulfilled the promise of God and man, 
and there the Ineffable fulfilled all that had been promised, 
His truth and intention complete in victory ; thus was He 
there la, the God of the promises fulfilled. And forasmuch 
as he came to His own house and heritage, as the great 
theologian says, and His own did not receive Him but one 
here and there, as though in vestiges, He passed on to 
communicate such great benefits to all the nations, who, 
on receiving Him were made sons of God, new Israelites, 
nay, out of stones sons of Abraham ; for such as adored 
stocks and stones made themselves inferior to those very stones. 
Thus was Jerusalem extended, and its walls, according to 
the petition of David in Psalm 1. in his penitence, should 
be built up in order that such a great multitude should 
enter in and sing the Allelu-ia. When St. Jerome 
persuaded Pope Damasus to have this new voice heard in 
Rome, and that it be thus sung in the Hebrew language, 
these and other greater secrets which we have not 
attained did he reveal, because for the saintly pontiff to 
order so extraordinary a thing (which no doubt must have 
caused some alteration), great secrets must he have 
necessarily disclosed to him. It is seen that even in the 
time of the Holy Father Gregory I. this affair had not 


been so well received or established in all parts, through 
ignorance of the mystery which it enclosed within. All 
were not so careful as Damasus ; they did not all heed or 
care to comprehend the divine mysteries. We have need 
always to lament this negligence ; and even at the present 
day, at this period when so much light has been thrown 
over these things, there is smaller pleasure among the 
many in turning our eyes to study and investigation than 
the bats and owls have in turning their eyes to the rays 
of the sun. But let us end here this discourse which 
would be lengthened to a great extent if we ventured to 
make it equal to the one which follows and similar to the 


St. Jerome prescribes the Offices of the Church, the formulary 
of the Prayers, and the Rite of Holy Mass 

There is a doubt when and where St. Jerome performed 
these pious labours, of which we are about to treat. I 
state this in regard to ordering the Alleluia to be sung in 
the Church, and the rest which forms the subjects of this 

I think there can be no difficulty in the belief that 
the glorious Pope St. Damasus had died ere his saintly 
friend departed from Rome, as we shall proceed farther on 
to prove. Therefore we must say one of two things, 
either that he undertook these works before his arrival in 
Rome when he quitted the wilderness, while staying 
alternately in Antioch, or in Bethlehem, or in Jerusalem, 
or in the solitudes of Palestine, at the earnest petition by 
letters of Damasus ; or that during his sojourn in Rome, 
as we shall suppose, he occupied himself in these pious 
exercises during what leisure was left to him after his 
many other occupations had been discharged. As regards 
the first theory we have a fact which favours it, in the 
existence of a letter written by St. Damasus to St. Jerome 
with the doctor's reply attached, in which the pontiff 
desires him to undertake these great works and other 

affairs, and Jerome's promise to put into execution what he 



was entrusted with. These letters are to be found among 
the works of our holy doctor in the first volume of the 
Councils now more recently collected together, and are 
also corroborated by many grave authors as being genuine. 1 
Others again there are who will not admit them to be 
genuine, but strike them out as false and frauds. The 
style of the letters they maintain is a great argument, 
since they are far from the style of learned men, and 
despite that this argument carries much weight, yet it is 
not sufficient to outweigh the authority of so many clever 
men and to frustrate the general belief which holds true 
the tradition that this was their work. That this com- 
munication, however, passed between Jerome and Damasus 
by letter is certain, and it has been confirmed in earlier ages 
by common consent and handed down by unbroken tradition 
among lettered men. 

Whether these letters be true ones or not it is certain 
that St. Jerome, with the authority of Damasus, was most 
earnest in the adornment and care of the Church, whether 
when in Syria or when in Rome, or by correspondence 
and letters in carrying out what he had promised. Much 
in this respect is due to the piety and zeal of the holy 
pontiff, who as one vigilant and zealous for all appertaining 
to the Church, did not lose any opportunity, and who was 
also one who appreciated the talent of Jerome, perceiving 
that in him had descended the spirit of a Bezaleel, and 
thus employed him to adorn and embellish many things 
necessary in this tabernacle which God had planted and 
not man. Damasus, considering with especial regard all 
that appertained to the divine worship, found many 
deficiencies in plan and harmony. The former holy 
pontiffs, preoccupied as they had been with the persecu- 
tions of idolaters, the work of erecting churches, the 

1 Erasmus in 4 vols. Marianus in 9 vols. Perl. Laurient. Surium, et Alis. 


extirpation of heresies, the eradication of idolatry and 
other affairs requiring their immediate attention, had not 
had that peace and quietude in which to treat of other 
matters, zealous as they had been respecting the order to 
be followed in the offices of the Church, but had each in 
their turn done what best seemed to him good, according 
to the time and opportunity. Beyond such things as had 
been agreed upon in the sacrifice of the altar since the 
time of the apostles, in all the essentials of the Sacrament, 
in the matter, in the form, in many parts, and the principal 
ones, of the sacred canon, the few details taught by St. 
Peter, St. James the Less, and other apostles were 
followed, forasmuch as they had seen them done by our 
Lord, or they themselves had used, or the pontiffs who 
had immediately succeeded the apostles had learned 
from them, as may be seen in the Liturgies which 
were printed by the diligence of Pamelius — in all else 
details were left to option. There was no harmony or 
order of epistles, gospels, or of introits ; in a word, each 
one was free to use what he chose. The same was the 
case in the recital of the divine office. The Psalms were 
indeed recited, but without having a set formulary of lessons, 
the distribution of prayer and praises for Matins, and the 
rest of the holy hours being left to the individual choice. No 
regular form had been established, and the Church, which 
in all things is one, in this matter had not had the time 
nor the peace to establish and agree upon the plan to be 
followed, pursuing the doctrine left to the faithful by 
the apostles in general, exhorting one another to a holy 
life, with hymns and psalms, singing in their hearts 
spiritual canticles which later on were to be uttered 
by the mouth. In order to establish and arrange the 
method and plan of the divine liturgy, Pope Damasus 
besought Jerome to set in order the office of the Masses, 


and draw up the formulary of the prayers to be used. 
For the different masses he was to assign the gospels and 
the epistles which were to be said or sung throughout the 
year, taking into account the feasts of our redemption, of 
the divine Saviour, and other mysteries of holy faith, then 
the order to be followed on the feasts of the apostles and 
martyrs, and lastly the arrangements of the Psalter and the 
order of reciting the canonical hours. In the aforesaid 
letter of Pope Damasus to our doctor he expresses himself 
in this wise : " I ask of your charity that, according to 
what you learned of your Rector Alexander, our bishop, 
you will send us the manner of chant used in the Greek 
Church when singing the holy Psalms, because, so great 
is our simplicity, that it is only when Sunday recurs that 
an epistle of the apostles is read, and a chapter from the 
gospels; and we have neither experience nor the manner 
of singing the Psalms, nor is the beauty of the hymns 
pronounced by our mouth." 

The holy doctor did as he was bidden. He arranged 
the whole of the office of the Church ; he disposed the 
Psalms according to the plan which at the present day is 
in general use in all churches, which on this point do not 
vary from the Roman. He divided the Psalter among the 
ordinary days of the week. He allotted some of the Psalms 
for the feasts of the apostles, martyrs, and virgins. He 
assigned some for lauds, others for vespers, and others 
again for the remaining hours of the day. He further- 
more persuaded the holy Pontiff, and obtained his sanction, 
to add at the end of each psalm that celestial versicle of 
confession and praise of the most holy Trinity, " Gloria 
Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto," so that the faith of the 
holy Nicene Council, confessed and declared by the 318 
Fathers, should resound always in the ears, and by the 
mouths, of the faithful ! A favour truly vouchsafed from 


Heaven, inspired into the heart of this great doctor and 
father of the Church, and worthy of everlasting praise ; 
for, had nothing else remained to us in the Church of 
St. Jerome's labours, we should be under a very great 
obligation to him for this work alone. He also appor- 
tioned the lessons which were to be said at Matins 
throughout the year, gathering from the sacred books 
such passages as were most appropriate to the various 
times in such a manner, that the whole of the sacred 
Scriptures should be gone through during the year, and 
thus knowledge be obtained in the ordinary course of 
prayer. Later on he drew up the arrangement in con- 
formity with the above, the gospels and epistles which 
were to be sung at Mass, on the various feasts in the 
course of the sacred cycle, touching upon the mystery of 
our redemption, setting their particular narratives ; he also 
followed this plan in regard to feasts of certain saints, such 
as the apostles whose history is recorded in the sacred 
books, or such parts as appertained to the spirit and 
doctrines of each. All this was carried out with such 
method and harmony that it was clearly seen that he 
was divinely inspired and guided in this heavenly task. 
The epistles are full of a lofty art : they generally 
seem to be commentaries of the gospel selected ; all is 
proportioned and to the point, whereby is seen the great 
knowledge that our holy doctor possessed of all the sacred 
books, and how well he penetrated divine secrets. In 
truth, I venture to say that for this work he had great 
assistance from the Holy Spirit, which directed his pen. 
Respecting the order and arrangement of the divine office, 
there was composed a book called Comes, or otherwise 
known as Book of Lessons. In proof of what has been 
stated, and of its antiquity, I will here state what Jacobus 
Pamelkis, a very erudite and pious man, says in the 


Prolegomena or Preambles which he wrote to the afore- 
said book, and also what other grave authors declare. This 
work was printed anew after the reforms had been effected 
in the Missal and the Roman Breviary by Pius V. Thus 
does Pamelius speak in the Preface to the second volume : 
" Among the many other things which, at the desire and 
petition of St. Jerome, were ordained in the Church to be 
done by Pope Damasus of saintly memory, it is declared 
by such as have treated on the scheme of the order of 
the divine offices, was the arrangement of the lessons 
and the distribution of the gospels and epistles during the 
course of the year, this being due to St. Jerome. To 
prove this they quote frequently in their works the book 
called Comes, some adding the name of St. Jerome 
as the author, while others do so without giving the 
author's name. Putting aside, in the first place, the parts 
I have quoted in the volume of the Liturgies, and of 
Alcuin (who alleges oftentimes these lessons), Amalarius, 
in his book iii. cap. 40, says that in ancient missals and in 
the Book of Lessons there is found written, ' Hebdomada 
quintet ante Natalem Domini,' and as many lessons in the 
Book of Lessons and equal number of gospels from the time 
reckoned to the Nativity." Farther on he adds : " The 
author of the Book of Lessons awakens our faith the more 
by representing to us the ages which preceded the coming 
of our Redeemer, symbolised by the weeks of Advent. He 
subsequently gives another reason for this in the lib. iv. 
Berno, Bishop of Augsburg, in the book of the Mass, 
treats upon two questions respecting the divergence exist- 
ing between the Book of Lessons and the Antiphonary, 
or Book of Antiphons and book of the Sacraments. 1 The 
first question occurs in chapter iv. : ' Why does the author 

1 The two last books mentioned he attributes to St. Gregory Pope, and the first to 
St. Jerome. 


of the Offices of the Mass set no more than four weeks 
(hebdomades) of Advent, whilst he who arranged the Book 
of Lessons places five ? ' The other question he treats 
upon in chapter vi. : ' Why did the author of the Book of 
Offices set twenty-three offices from the octave of Pentecost 
to Advent, whilst the author of the Book of Lessons sets 
twenty -five lessons, apart from the lessons and gospels 
which are read during the octave of Pentecost ? ' And 
with the Fifth Sunday before the Nativity of our Lord and 
that of the Most Holy Trinity, these, together with the 
twenty-five, make the number of twenty-seven. In chapter 
v. this same Bishop Berno treats on the concordance of 
these three books and of their titles, which for brevity's 
sake I omit. I will only confine myself to giving this 
testimony of his in regard to the authorship." Similarly 
he says : " As we believe that St. Gregory composed the 
book of the Sacraments and of the Antiphons, so also do 
we believe that St. Jerome composed the Book of Lessons, 
as is made manifest by the preface at the beginning of 
the book he calls Comes." Moreover, Micrologas, in 
the book Observationes Ecclesiastics, chapter xxv., states 
St. Jerome to be the author of Comes by the following 
words : " Also in the book Comes or Book of Lessons, 
which St. Jerome composed, in the fasts of Pentecost 
he gives the lessons which appertain to the feasts of the 
Holy Ghost." And in chapters xxviii. and xxx. he cites 
the lessons contained in the same book, where he also 
attributes the authorship of them to St. Jerome. The same 
does John Beleth, the theologian, allege in the Rationale 
of the Divine Offices, chapter lvii., where he says that St. 
Jerome, at the pleading of Pope Damasus, ordained that 
in all the churches should be read and followed what 
had been drawn up and arranged by St. Jerome for the 
seasons, drawn from the New and the Old Testament. 


Lastly, for the confirmation of this statement, it becomes 
very important to note that the ancient Fathers made a 
remembrance of the lessons that are read from both the 
Testaments, publicly and in common, and that the suc- 
cessors of St. Damasus " make particular mention of the 
apostolic and evangelical lessons, as appears from what we 
saw in the first volume, as, for instance, such saints as 
St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Augustine of Africa, St. Leo 
the Great (Pope), St. Silvanius and St. Cesarius of France, 
while the three last use the translation of St. Jerome." 
All this is from Pamelius, in the above-quoted place of the 
second volume, where he purposely authorises the book 
called Comes or Book of Lessons, which begins from the 
vigil of the Nativity with the lessons of Isaias Prophet : 
"Hcec dicit Dominus, propter Sion non tacebo" etc. And 
the Epistle of St. Paul, "Ad Romanos, Paulus servus Jesu 
Christi vocatus Apostolus." And the Gospel " Secundum 
Matthtzum," " Cum esset desponsata Mater Jesu Maria 
Joseph." And following all the feasts of the Lord, and 
the Sundays of the year, marking the stations of the 
churches of Rome, setting the feasts of the apostles and 
martyrs, comes Advent, beginning with the Fifth Sunday, 
reckoning up to the vigil of the Nativity, assigning gospels, 
epistles, and lessons for the fourth and sixth days of the 
week. On completing the course of the year he adds 
also the Rites for the Dedication of Churches, the 
Ceremonial for the Ordination of Deacons, Priests, and 
Bishops, and finally he gives the Office for the Dead, 
thus ending the Book of Lessons. From this is seen 
that the Missal and Breviary, which now, so divinely 
ordained, are in use, differ but little from venerable antiquity 
due to the arrangement of St. Jerome ; a matter of great 
joy to the pious, who see how united the Church has 
always been, since even in this matter, where, the field 


and liberty were so wide that she might have effected 
variety and change, she yet has not done so. Hence how 
much in the wrong are those, who understand so little, 
yet tell us that these things are of recent date ; those 
who speak thus have not looked into the books of authors 
so ancient, grave, and learned and erudite, who received it 
as a thing established and worthy of the highest reverence. 
In the first volume the same Pamelius, treating on what 
the holy Pontiff St. Damasus had ordained in the Church, 
says as follows : " In the pontifical books, in the Life of 
St. Damasus, it is stated that he ordered the Psalms to be 
sung night and day throughout the Church. He ordered 
this to the bishops, the priests, and to the monasteries in 
nearly similar terms." Wilfridus Strabo says the same thing 
in his book On the Offices of the Church, in chapter xxv. 
Marianus Scotus, in the second volume of his History, 
expresses himself in these words : " Damasus, the twenty- 
eighth pope after St. Peter, ordained that in the whole 
Church there should be sung day and night the Psalms." 
This is confirmed by Venerable Bede, Haddo, and Usuardus 
in their " Martyrologies." Sigisbert in his Chronicles 
affirms the same thing. 1 All these authors allude to the 
words of that epistle which was quoted of our saint, which 
stands in the first volume of the Councils of the Church. This 
is confirmed, too, by Albinus Flaccus in his work De Officiis 
Divinis, where he says that the verse " Gloria Patri et 
Filio" etc., which words St. Jerome composed at the petition 
of Damasus, divides the Psalms from one another, because 
formerly they were sung consecutively without division. 
That, not satisfied with this verse, considering it too 
small a pause between psalm and psalm, the same sovereign 
Pontiff again asked him to separate it further, where- 
upon St. Jerome added the other verse, " Sicut erat in 

1 Sigisbert, Cron. anno 382. 


principio et nunc et semper, et in sacula sczculorum. Amen." 
Rudolphus Turgensis says that the verse " Gloria Patri," 
etc., was composed by the Nicene Council, and that Pope 
Damasus ordered it to be sung at the end of each psalm. 
The same was said by Martinus Polonus in the year 370. 
Respecting the epistles and the gospels, Wilfridus Strabo, 
in the book already referred to, says thus : "It appears 
that in those times there were neither appointed nor read 
other lessons before the gospel but those from St. Paul ; these 
were named only by the one who wrote the Deeds of the 
Pontiffs when he made a commemoration of the Antiphons, 
of which formerly they had none, and there was only read 
an epistle of the apostle, and the gospel, which statement is 
made by the pontiff Damasus, when writing to Jerome, in 
similar words." 

Subsequently, after a careful examination of all points 
relating to this arrangement, there were set by Jerome 
other new lessons, not only taken from the New Testa- 
ment, but even from the Old, according as the various 
feasts demanded. Rudolphus, in the aforesaid quotation, 
says that St. Jerome, cardinal priest, arranged and 
composed the order to be followed of the epistles and of 
the gospels, and this order is still adhered to at the present 
day in the Church, as is proved by the book called Comes. 
And writing to the Bishop Constantius, he says that Pope 
Damasus determined they should be thus read, as in 
use to this day. In order to manifest the antiquity and 
the genuineness of the book called Comes, which he was 
bringing forth to the light, and how ancient the originals 
were, he states in the Preface to the first volume as follows : 
" Of the Comes, or according to the moderns as it is now 
called, Book of the Lessons of the most blessed Saint Jerome, 
I declare that it was transcribed from the original which 
lies in the library and sacristy of our Cathedral Church 


of Bruges, and subsequently both Hitorpus and myself 
compared it with some ancient originals of Cologne, among 
which there was one in the Metropolitan Church of Saint 
Peter, over eight hundred years old, as was proved by the 
Catalogue of the same library." 

Further on Pamelius quotes other very ancient origi- 
nals of some 600 years, by which is fully investigated 
the truth of the volume. The theologian John Beleth, 
in the aforesaid place quoted, 1 says : " The offices of the 
Church were arranged by the blessed Saint Jerome, at the 
request of Pope Damasus, and all that is read of the Old 
and New Testament in the Church. St. Gregory was an 
author, and he composed some of the chants, and Gelasius 
some hymns and other things, because in the time of 
Theodosius the Greater, the Psalms being said without 
any appointed order, he besought Pope Damasus to make 
it his care to have the office of the Church arranged, 
which thing Damasus effected by means of the Blessed 
Saint Jerome." 

And in chapter xix. he further says : " We have said 
in the first place, speaking in a general way, that no one 
thing must be sung or read which be not approved by the 
supreme Pontiff. In the primitive Church each one sung 
what he pleased, so long as what was sung appertained 
to the divine praises. Some things were common and 
followed by all, either because taught by Christ, such 
as the Lord's Prayer, or by the apostles, as the Creed. 
Subsequently, when heresies and schisms sprang up in the 
Church and attacked her, the Emperor Theodosius, con- 
sidering all things — for he himself had endeavoured to 
suppress and bring to naught the heresies of his time — 
conferred with Damasus the Pontiff, and besought him 
to summon some pious learned man to arrange and fix 

1 In rational, div. Office, cap. 57. 


the divine offices, which thing Damasus did, entrusting 
this duty to St. Jerome, a man of great erudition and 
learning in the three principal languages, and as one 
whom he judged fully qualified to carry this out effectually, 
and thus set in order some at least of the offices of the 
Church. Jerome did so ; and fixed as regards the 
Psalms, which, and how many, and on what days they 
should be sung ; and the gospels and epistles and other 
offices, all which he arranged with much order. Thus 
from that time a particular office was defined for each 
day, and even many of the chants he composed ; to 
which subsequently were added others by some of the 
doctors of the Church. When Pope Damasus examined 
the labours of St. Jerome, he commanded this arrange- 
ment to be kept and used in the Church." All this is 
what John Beleth says. 

I shall conclude this subject, which appears well proved, 
with the authority of Honorius of Augsburg in his book 
of Gemma Animce, and on the Concordance of the divine 
offices, where he says : " As anciently the divine office was 
said in the Church according as each one liked ; but sub- 
sequently, when the crowd of heretics began to divide into 
a thousand sections the unity of the Church of Jesus 
Christ, and schismatics broke it up in their conventicles 
and assemblies, the Emperor Theodosius of glorious 
memory, earnestly and diligently strove that a Council 
should be convened in Constantinople, wherein all the 
heresies of that time were condemned, and he humbly 
asked the Synod to give orders as to the divine offices 
being fixed and arranged. This important affair 
Damasus, the Roman Pontiff, entrusted to Jerome, a 
priest, a most learned man in divine and human letters. 
The erudite doctor did this work when living in the small 
city of Bethlehem, where our Saviour was born. He 


distributed the Psalms among the hours of the night and 
of the day with great prudence in the form which the 
Church sings them even to the present day. For the 
office of the Mass he assigned lessons and gospels, taking 
them from the Old and New Testament, according as he 
deemed convenient to the time and to the seasons, because 
the Roman Church, when she seeks the succour of the 
saints, forms processions and makes stations to the different 
churches. When Damasus received the plan of the divine 
offices so wisely composed by St. Jerome, he summoned 
the College, and ordained that it should be thus sung and 
recited throughout the Church. Subsequently, St. Gregory 
and Gelasius made the prayers and chants which were 
appropriate to the lessons and the gospels according to 
the aforesaid plan, and now practised by the Church during 
the celebration of the divine offices. 

As regards the statement made by the two authors, 
John Beleth and Honorius, that St. Jerome composed 
this plan when in Bethlehem, and even when St. Paula 
was already dwelling there, it is clearly a mistake, because 
without doubt St. Damasus was already dead when Jerome 
and Paula lived in Bethlehem, as we shall show farther on 
very clearly from the very epistles of the saint himself. 
It might have been the case that, as I have already said, 
all this affair was carried through before he came to Rome, 
when dwelling in Bethlehem. I consider it far more 
probable that he did not do so, but that it was effected 
when in Rome, despite that upon this question these 
letters were written ; and I have a suspicion that the reason 
for being compelled to go to Rome by Imperial letters 
was the occasion of this affair. 

It has been fully shown that our great doctor served 
the Church in all these things, and that through his dili- 
gence and holy labours the divine office is resplendent 


with the beauty which we perceive at the present day. 
He introduced the song of Alleluia ! the versicle Gloria 
Patri et Filio ; the distinction of the ordinary week days 
by psalms ; the epistles, the lessons, and the chant : all 
things of themselves so inspired by Heaven, that such as 
do not enjoy them here below will not enjoy them above : 
things which clearly manifest the great favours which the 
soul of the saint received from God, and moreover things 
which, without being in the company of angels, could not 
have been so well arranged. 

And thus does John Cassian express himself in the 
second book of Institution of Monks and Monasteries, that 
this scheme of the work done by St. Jerome in arranging 
the divine offices was not a thing of human genius, but 
that it was communicated to him by means of the angels 
sent from heaven. And in truth this doctor speaks justly, 
forasmuch as there is something of majesty and glory, 
which lifts up the spirit of men so above themselves, 
renders them quite other men, that being filled with a 
supernatural spirit, they are raised above all human inter- 
course, and appear to be in another region, taken up from 
earth during the time they are celebrating the divine 
offices ; and the angels do not disdain to mix themselves 
in this intercourse with men, and they come down with 
loving affection to the company of mortals. Oftentimes 
have the voices of these servants of God been heard 
mingling with ours, when, in the silent hours of the 
night, with joyful vigils and songs, at times glad, at others 
sad, they have awakened the Lord and Spouse of religious 
souls ; and He, moved by such welcome sounds, communes 
and communicates Himself to these by gifts, and takes 
delight in those pure verses and canticles on earth better 
than in the dwellings of the heavens. Oh ! thou Jerom- 
inite Order ! with good reason dost thou take pride in 


the divine office and love thy choirs ! Thine do I call it, 
since it had its birth, so to say, in the house of thy Father, 
and it comes to thee, as to a daughter by inheritance, and 
in whatsoever day thou shouldst not follow this with the 
care which has been thine up to the present — do not ever 
again call thyself his daughter ! Let the world style thee 
as it may, for we well know how deceived it ever is in 
assigning names to things. Let others spend the nights 
and the days in what may so please them ; but thou, as is 
thy custom, holy mother, spend it in the divine praises : 
let them be found thus by the night, when the sun sets 
below the horizon and when it illumines those that are 
beneath our feet ; and there also let it find thee when it 
comes forth in the morning ! Thy inheritance is the 
choir and the song, the purity and cleanliness of the 
house of the Lord, the spotlessness and the adornment of 
His palaces on this earth ! The same office will be thine 
to perform high up in the heavens, where no other occupa- 
tion is known but that of singing the divine praises ! 

And in truth the choir is an angelic institution : it was 
not learned, as some appear to think, 1 from the vain pagans, 
who, placed in choirs and circles, as we now declare it, 
in a ring, sang and danced before the brutal and unclean 
altars of their abominable gods, holding each other's hands 
or singly, beseeching in their songs that their sacrifices be 
accepted which were offered to them. A more ancient 
and nobler foundation has the Church in her holy rites, 
and one that she learned from better masters. The 
prophet Isaias beheld the seraphs placed in choirs, how 
they sang withi alternate voices : Holy ! holy ! to the Lord 
of armies, and celestial choirs. 2 Coor, in the language 
of the Scythians and Cimmerians, means multitude, who 

1 Scaligerus, de Arte Poet. lib. I, cap. 49. 
2 Gorop, Hermit, lib. 77. 


placed in a circle with pious ceremonies and chants, are 
singing in coor, which among them is interpreted as though 
we should say, fountain and circle of eternity ; and this 
appertains to the angels before any other creatures. From 
this word, it is said, arose the Greek and Latin term chorus ; 
while reversed, or the letters taken backwards, would 
form rooc, which in the same tongue means smoke ; and a 
choir of such as praise God is in truth a smoke and most 
sweet perfume which touches the nostrils of God, and 
appeases Him, restrains His wrath, and mitigates it. The 
Book of Ecclesiasticus says : " The oblation of the just 
ennobles the altar and is a sweet odour in the worship of 
the Most High." 

From this is seen the reason for the holy ceremony 
used in the Church, that those who are in the choir singing 
and praising the Eternal Majesty of God in a circle, with- 
out beginning or end, are incensed with perfumes, in order 
to give them to understand that their songs and hymns 
are perfumes which touch the nostrils of God, and are to 
Him sweet smelling, as were the sacrifices which Noe 
offered Him after leaving the ark, and the sacred Scriptures 
say God smelled them, and they rose up an odour of 
sweetness, which is a most lofty mystery to be treated on 
more leisurely. That smoke which comes forth from the 
censer is a symbol of the devotion and the spirit which 
burns within, and the smoke ascends to God ; from whence 
it is concluded that the outward smoke would be idle, 
fruitless, unless it had the signification which corresponds 
to the interior. Because the spirit which rises to God in 
praises is a joyous choir, a spiritual smoke to the divine 
nostrils and ears. These two things must be close to- 
gether : from the interior spirit burning and exhaling a 
sweet perfume which ascends towards God, must also rise 
the melody and song of the choir, because otherwise their 


voices will be dispersed and cast to the winds. It was 
this that our saintly doctor essayed to plant in the Church, 
imitating the angels in choirs, so that our spirits, glowing 
with divine love, should rise in union with the voices until 
making music before God He is enveloped by a most sweet 
perfume. This Jerome did not learn from Isaias, but in 
those delightful moments when, raised above the earth, he 
himself has declared to us on oath that he found himself 
amid the choirs of angels, as we have already seen and 
remarked when writing his life in the wilderness. In 
regard to the division of the lessons, I believe he adapted 
it from the practice in the Hebrew synagogue, because, as 
is proved in chapter xiii. of Apostolic Deeds or Practice of the 
Gospel, the Hebrews had apportioned the Books of the 
Prophets throughout all the weeks of the year, these said 
lessons containing all the more remarkable prophecies 
respecting the Messiah, Christ our Lord, in order that the 
Jews should not suffer ignorance and that they should 
understand. Thus speaks St. Paul when addressing the 
Jews in the synagogue of Antioch, that the Jews who 
dwelt in Jerusalem, and the princes among them, ignored 
the Messias x formally and maliciously, as well as the voices 
of the prophets, which are read out and proclaimed during 
the course of the week. In imitation of this plan, our 
doctor divided the whole of the sacred Scriptures which 
manifest Christ to us, through the entire course of the 
weeks of the year. The scheme of the epistles and 
gospels he took from apostolic tradition ; and whereas 
he was so well informed in the antiquity and history of the 
Church, he was well qualified to arrange them with method 
and order. 

After the descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles, 
those heavenly men who had received the first-fruits of 

1 Acts xiii. 


this treasure, in their deep gratefulness would meet to- 
gether to celebrate the mysteries of the redemption of the 
world in the communication and breaking of the Bread, 
for with these words does St. Luke signify the Sacrament 
of the Eucharist. At the beginning the number was small 
and they were all together, they knew one another, all were 
perfect men, saintly, full of God. The Church grew, some 
few separated and went to dwell in various towns, some in 
Jerusalem, others in Antioch, others again in Rome, 
Corinth, and Ephesus ; some of these were of the highest 
holiness ; others were still imperfect, for under these 
two heads does the apostle divide them. No longer could 
they be gathered together in one church, because poverty 
and the persecution of the Gentiles did not allow of large 
gatherings nor public ones. Secretly would they divide 
themselves as best they could, where there were many 
under divers names and titles — some were called of the 
band or brotherhood of John, others of Bartholomew, and 
so on. On meeting together in this way, either each day 
or when they could, the first thing they did was to confess 
themselves as unworthy of so much good, and to accuse 
themselves humbly and in common of their defects ; then 
they rose up and sang some hymns as best they thought. 
After this, if any letter had been received by that con- 
gregation or brotherhood, from the apostle St. Paul, or 
from any of their princes, it was read carefully in public, 
and each received what duties were ordered, what doctrine 
or mystery explained, the counsels, the reprehensions con- 
veyed in that epistle. After the reading of this letter, 
which was done slowly, all being seated, and listened to 
with deep attention, a portion of the gospel was read, 
either such portion as had been declared in the letter or 
that came to the purpose. This ended, they all made a 
profession of the faith, either by the creed which the 


apostle had composed, or in the order which was most 
convenient. And whilst the offering of bread and wine 
was being prepared which was to be consecrated, the 
members of that meeting contributed their alms for the 
necessitous brothers and the poor generally, whether pre- 
sent or absent. After this they joined in prayer to God 
for the whole world, for the princes of the Church, men 
apostles, or apostolic ; then for the heads of the Republics, 
whether Christian or idolaters, so that He should be pleased 
to enlighten them, and guide in good ways the affairs of 
their Republic and government : this formed the preface. 
Then were celebrated the holy mysteries of the redemption 
of the world, consecrating the bread and the wine into the 
body and blood of our God and Lord Jesus Christ, as He 
had left it ordained it should be done in His memory and as 
He had willed. Before communicating they said the Lord's 
Prayer, calling God Father, and asking for all the benefits 
which from His hand can come to us, and, in particular, 
that He should give them that divine Bread, figured in 
other times by the manna, so that they should feel within 
them the promised Sabbath. They then received the 
Holy Communion, and those divine souls beheld the 
heavenly treasures and the Sacrament — hidden through- 
out the ages — manifested to them. They beheld God in 
themselves, and themselves within Him, and they com- 
municated themselves to Him and He to them. They 
saw themselves all made one in that mystic Body, in 
spirit and in truth. They were absorbed, full of God, as 
though inebriated with the divine sweetness, and that new 
wine, that is not poured into old leathern bottles, which 
savour of the first bad manufacture. 

Such was the Mass in that golden age, these were the 
divine offices celebrated : all this is gathered from the 
narrative of the Acts and apostolic practices, and from 



the Epistles of St. Paul, if with attention they be read and 
meditated upon. Some remains of this still exist, though 
in a very much lower grade, in the brotherhoods or 
confraternities that are scattered throughout the world, 
known under the name of St. John, of St. Peter, and 
of Our Lady, and other saints, the members meeting 
together in the churches under these invocations for Mass, 
sermons, and other spiritual works. Would that they 
did not meet at meals, so that they should not become 
so inflamed ! This evil, and abuse, commenced very 
early indeed. We have nothing to wonder at that such 
things should occur in these our times, when even in the 
time of the apostles, the text of the Epistle to the Corin- 
thians, 1 it was said in truth, "Alius quidem esurit, alius 
autem ebrius est." " Perchance," he adds then, " have you 
not houses where you can eat and drink? or do you 
despise the Church of God ? " They had not well com- 
prehended the doctrine which the holy apostle had given 
concerning the Supper of the Lord, and they fell into this 
abuse ; for had it been performed with that order which 
we have described, it would be all full of charity, and for 
that reason does he repeat in chapter xi. of the Epistle, 
and declares to them this most sacred mystery, in order 
that they should know what it means to meet together in 
the church and to communicate in one Spirit. He had 
also in chapter iii. of the same Epistle touched some- 
what on this 2 when he accuses them of being men who 
were yet carnal ; and he gives the reason, saying that 
there existed among them a rivalry and a question as to 
which (so to say) was of a higher confraternity and had 
been baptized by the better hand. Some would say : We 
are better, for we are of Paul ; others : Because we who 
are of Cephas, who is the head, have the advantage. No, 

1 I Cor. xi. 2 I Cor. iii. 


indeed ; but we who are of Apollo. All this was nothing 
more than the work of the enemy, who was sowing early 
harvests. In these gatherings and meetings, and other 
similar ones, began to be celebrated the divine offices 
simply and purely ; and those masters, great as they were, 
began to teach and to enjoin the order of what in those 
times was permitted. And the apostle in chapter xv., 
after having instructed them in the essential, concluded by 
saying, " What is wanting, when I come to see you I will 
dispose, and order how it shall be done." 

Of all these things the report had come down from 
hand to hand together with the tradition, and many things 
were proved in the writings of the learned men of those 
times who succeeded the apostles, particularly in the 
oriental churches. Our doctor took advantage of all this, 
hence he set in order all things for the use of the Church, 
and with such wisdom and doctrine that this order and 
plan was preserved and followed during the course of the 
ages down to the present and for all time. 


St. Jerome translates the Holy Scriptures at the Petition of 
St. Damasus, with especial reference to the Psalms. 
The Translation of the Septuagint is here considered. 

When the matter of the arrangement of the divine office 
was brought to a conclusion with such great care and skill, 
the holy Pontiff was filled with jubilation ; and he forthwith 
ordained that this new arrangement should be used through- 
out the Church. In the Roman Church it was at once adopted 
in order to invest the same with authority. I n that happy age 
all things appertaining to the external worship and ceremonial 
in the Latin Church began to assume force and lustre, the 
Greek Church having hitherto excelled the Latin in these 
matters, and the prelates so cleverly managed in a short 
time to work this out, that from this point the Latin Church 
had no need to be envious of any other. Inspired by God 
or charmed at the result, as well as urged by the existing 
necessity, the same pontiff besought the holy doctor to 
complete this sacred adorning and perfect the unity of the 
divine worship in the whole Church by undertaking the 
labour of amending the Psalter of David, since it was' the 
part most in use by the faithful. This was sung, as it had 
ever been sung, according to the translation of the 
Septuagint. There existed great discordance in the 

ecclesiastical music, which greatly offended the ear because 



some would recite it one way, others followed another 
plan, all due to the small care taken hitherto to adhere to 
that holy translation in its primitive entirety. This point 
is a very grave one — indeed, one of the gravest in this 
history ; and in order that the case be understood 
once and for all, I will exert myself to treat upon it in a 
brief manner, commencing from its foundation, for it is 
not easy to shed any light upon a thing which is so 

The sacred Scriptures — I mean what appertains to the 
Old Testament — were written by the act of the Holy 
Ghost, the ministers being many. The first and the 
principal was Moses, and after him the rest of the holy 
prophets. It was written in the language of Canaan, 
which language was subsequently called Hebrew, from the 
Hebrews or travellers (for thus does the word "Hebrews" 
signify), as will be stated in another part. The Scriptures 
for many years were confined to this language, without 
passing into another until the sons of Israel were freed 
from their captivity on their return to their own land of 
Canaan. Then the ancients and learned men among 
them perceived that the people and the classes generally, 
by reason of the long captivity lasting seventy years, had 
forgotten much of the mother tongue, and had acquired 
the Chaldaic, as one who had been unable to sing the 
canticle of the Lord in a strange land, and they agreed, 
as pious men and learned in their language, well 
grounded in the truth, to impart and instruct their sons 
and the rest of the people in the law and the sacred books. 
Yet they had further saintly considerations. The first, to 
enable all to participate in that great treasure of the Word of 
God, and with their own eyes see the light and not allege 
ignorance. Secondly, to assure the perpetuity of that 
said law by extending it to other tongues, so that others 


should read it and learn much. Thirdly, remove the 
occasion of saying that they alone were raised up by their 
learning, and did not wish, in order to preserve their 
authority, that others should know what they did. For all 
these reasons they conferred upon and agreed to translate 
the law into the Chaldaic and the Syriac, both common 
languages which were in daily use and spoken by all. 

The heroes of this undertaking, if we may believe Elias 
the Levite in his "ElMeoretk," were three. Orchelos, who 
translated the law comprised in the five books of Moses. 
Jonathas, to whom fell the prophets, first and last, Joshua, 
Judges, and Kings, the four greater prophets and the twelve 
minor ones. Josephus, to this one were given the transla- 
tion of the Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Canticles, and the rest of 
the sacred books, which the Hebrews call Cherubim and 
the Greeks Hagiographa. This was the first translation of 
the holy Scriptures, and of such great authority among the 
Jews that, when they have any doubt, they resort to this 
edition to solve the said doubts, and remain so well satis- 
fied with the question so lucidly explained as though God 
Himself had revealed it to them. And their conviction 
is good and in reason, because, together with their deep 
knowledge, they were learned in the law, and they them- 
selves were held to be saints. This translation is more of 
a paraphrase and a free rendering than a translation. It was 
so done for the aforesaid reasons. They called it Targum, 
which is equal to Exposition. Those expounders lived in 
times previous to the coming of Christ, and for that reason 
less suspected. If in our days it were to be found as they 
had left it, without doubt it would be a great treasure to 
us. What at present has been brought out and stands as 
the body of the royal Bible, although it is the best and 
most polished (omitting a few foolish things which some 
malicious Talmudists had inserted), nevertheless, many 


passages are untrustworthy ; yet it is of great service, and 
as a paraphrase and exposition very good, without going 
further as regards authority, nor its having greater force 
than any other exposition might have of any ancient 
author. There is no certitude that the Syriac transla- 
tion, which is in a language formed for the greater 
part of a mixture of the Chaldean and the Hebrew, despite 
that the characters and grammar differ considerably, was 
done by these same authors, for it is a question which 
has not been properly investigated up to the present 

In what regards the New Testament, some affirm that it 
was translated by St. Mark the Evangelist — a thing which, 
however, appears difficult to believe unless with a declared 
authority. In this doubt I am strengthened by the fact 
that neither St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, 
Athanasius, Theophilus, Epiphanius, our doctor St. 
Jerome, nor Theodoretus, nor indeed any others of the 
ancient Fathers, who have diligently treated on the affair 
concerning the translations, have made any mention of 
this, some of these having lived in Egypt and others in 
Syria, from which fact the suspicion has arisen in me that 
this translation is of a more recent date and subsequent to 
the times when the above-quoted authors existed. Never- 
theless, it is my belief that the Gospel of St. Matthew 
and the Epistle of the apostle St. Paul to the Hebrews 
were both originally written in the language of Syria. 
This is proved with sufficient plausibility by some modern 
authors, and although many of the aforesaid Fathers * may 
say that both these portions were written in the Hebrew, 
there is no contradiction, because they speak of the 
common Hebrew of those times which actually was the 
Syriac tongue. This is proved by the testimonies of the 

1 Albertus Wid. in act. Guido Fabricius. 


gospel, because where it says Hebraice Autem Golgotha, 
and other expressions of the same kind which St. Jerome 
noticed in the book of the Hebrew names, they are 
Syriac words and not native Hebrew ones. These were 
the first translations of the sacred Scriptures. 

As to the Greek translations — in order to approach 
nearer our purpose — St. Clement of Alexandria, in the 
first of his " Stromas" says that previous to the time of 
the great Alexander there had been a translation made in 
Greek of the sacred books, but it is not known who was 
the author. It appears that this translation was known 
to Plato, Aristotle, and other philosophers, who made use 
of its doctrine in their writings. Would that they 
had derived greater advantage, and not bartered their 
dreams so dearly ! And whereas there followed the 
famous translation of the Septuagint, this first one must 
necessarily have been of small authority as having been 
done by some private individual, was then gradually for- 
gotten, and the edition so exhausted that not even a relic 
remains of it. 

From this results that authors assign the first place to 
the seventy interpreters (it is of small importance to our 
purpose to dispute whether there were seventy-two). St. 
Irenaeus 1 and St. Clement of Alexandria say that it was 
done at the petition of Ptolemy, son of Cagi, who sent to 
Eleazar, the high priest, to assign learned men to do the 
translation, because he had in his own library a copy of the 
sacred Scriptures. Aristaeus in a history he wrote on this 
subject; and Josephus 2 in the 12th of his Antiquities; Philo 
in the second book of the Life of Moses ; Tertullian 8 in the 
Apologetic ; St. Athanasius in his Synopsis ; St. Epiphanius 
in the work on Weights and Measures ; and many others 

1 Lib. 3, c. 25, Irenaeus. 
2 Joseph, Aut. lib. 12, c. 2. 3 Tertul. Apolog. cap. 13. 


after these, affirm that it was .no other than Ptolemy, 
despite that the interval was so short between one and 
the other that the difference is of small account. St. 
Epiphanius says that it was in the seventh year of the 
latter, and from that date to the nativity of our Saviour 
there intervened 291 years. It was certainly an inspira- 
tion from Heaven that this translation should have been 
done so many years before, because, as Eusebius 1 says in 
the eighth book, De prceparatione evangelica, had it been 
done after the coming of Jesus Christ, the Jews, through 
envy, might have concealed the truth, or have corrupted 
the meaning, or at the least it would have remained of 
scant fidelity. Some grave authors among the Latins have 
ventured to say, that the Seventy translated no farther 
than the five books of Moses. They make our holy doctor 
chief author of this statement, because in the book on the 
Hebraic Questions, and in the chapter v. of Ezechiel, and 
in ii. of Micheas, it appears he approves this, and con- 
firms it with the authority of Aristaeus in the book of this 
history, and with that of Josephus 2 in the quoted place ; 
and Philo, in the place above-said, notes the same, while 
some moderns say that it is a common sentence of the 
Hebrews. This becomes a probability from the fact that 
the whole translation did not occupy more than seventy 
days, according as it is affirmed by Aristaeus, and Josephus, 
and by St. Isidore 3 in his offices. Of this opinion is the 
author of the book Sederholam-minor? and others. The 
contrary, however, is the opinion of the ancient fathers 
and doctors, from Justin Martyr in the Dialogue against 
Tryphon ; St. Irenaeus, lib. u, cap. xxxv. ; St. Clement of 
Alexandria ; Epiphanius and Eusebius in the places quoted 

1 Euseb. 8 De Prapar. Evangel, cap. 1. 

2 Joseph. Ant. lib. 12, c. 2, et lib. 1, c. 1. 

3 Isidor. 1 off. c. 12. * Sederholam-minor. 


above. 1 The reason of this appears evident, for it is not 
possible that Ptolemy, when he collected together books 
from all the world for his library, should not have 
gathered the principal ones of the Hebrews, which were 
the Prophecies which they held in such reverence and as 
so sacred ; the histories of their kings, and the noteworthy 
actions of their captains and judges. More especially, 
that Jesus Christ and His apostles used this translation 
when they quoted the Scriptures, and they had never had 
knowledge of any other translation in those times but that 
of the Septuagint. 

To urge that in seventy -two days it was impossible 
to effect so large a work is a poor argument, because even 
so small a work as the Five Books in the same number of 
days would be a marvel, as were many other marvels 
which occurred in this translation, to translate so little in 
so long a time. Our holy doctor is also of this opinion ; 
because, although in the passage quoted, which was on 
Micheas, he doubts that this translation should be the 
Septuagint, and quotes Josephus and other Hebrews, 
and in the preface of the Hebrew questions he says 
the same ; yet he there speaks, if we read it atten- 
tively, of the opinion of others, and not his own, without 
affirmation, because in all his commentaries on the twelve 
Prophets (according as he declares against Rufinus) he 
uses it together with his own. His words are these : 
" Despite that learned men like Josephus and the Hebrews 
may say, that the seventy interpreters only translated the 
five books of Moses, yet I, following the authority of the 
ancients — Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen — say that they 
translated the whole of the Old Testament." And I 
think, that when Arista^us says that the Seventy translated 

1 Martinez, Hypotypos, lib. I, c. I., et hseretici judaizantes. Vide ix. turn, 
Senen. ult. capit. totius Biblioth. Euseb. Ctesar, lib. 8, cap. I. 


the books of the law, he did not understand by this only 
the Pentateuch, as the Jews do, but that under the books 
of the law he comprehended the whole of the Old Testa- 
ment, because it takes the name from that first and 
principal part, in the same way as Christ, speaking 
through St. John in the chapters x. and xv., says that there 
was written in the law that which is found in the Psalms, 
Odio habuerunt me gratis, which is read in Psalm xv., and 
Ego dixi : dii estis omnes, which occurs in Psalm lxxxi., 
and in the same manner does St. Paul say in the first 
Epistle to the Corinthians, cap. xiv., that there was written 
in the law what occurs in Isaias. There is another very 
much disputed question, viz., whether these seventy- two 
interpreters were all gathered together, or apart each in 
his own chamber alone, or all in one chamber, or in twos 
and twos. In any way, it appears a great marvel. And 
it was wonderful indeed that so many men in so short a 
space of time as seventy-two days should come together 
and agree on such a long and difficult work, and that no 
great differences of opinion should have occurred, a fact 
so unusual in this kind of work and among men of deep 
learning, for the greater be the learning the greater the 
difficulty to maintain an opinion. In truth I hold it a 
greater miracle than, if apart, and each in his cell, they 
should have agreed to it. This question of the separate 
cells carries the authority and foundation of Justin Martyr 1 
in the Exhortation to the Gentiles, where it says that he 
saw remains and vestiges of the little cells in Alexandria 
where the translation was made. Following Justin, and 
trusting to his authority, come St. Irenseus, 2 St. Cyril, 3 St. 
Clement of Alexandria, 4 St. Augustine, 5 in his De Civitate 

1 Justin. Mart. Ora Exhort. 2 Irenseus, lib. 3, c. 25. 

3 Cyrilus, Cateches. 4. 4 Clement, 1 Stromat. 

5 August, t. 8, De civitate, cap. 24 ; De doctrina Christiana, lib. 2, c. 1 5. 


Dei, although in the second book of De doctrina Christiana 
he does not determine either one way or the other. Some 
moderns add Philo 1 in the lib. 2 of the Life of Moses, 
Tertullian 2 in his Apologetics, and St. John Chrysostom 
in the fifth homily on St. Matthew, yet these three 
authors do not say a word respecting the dwellings and 
cells, but only that all these authors agreed marvellously 
not only in the sense, but in the words. St. Epiphanius, 
in the work on Weights and Measures, says that they were 
enclosed two and two, and that by a miracle each one 
came forth with his translation complete of the whole 
sacred Scriptures, with the same words, in such sort that 
there remained clearly thirty- six translations. 

The reason for this action of carefully separating them 
in divers dwellings, St. Irenseus tells us (and from which 
subsequently Eusebius drew his information) 8 was because 
Ptolemy wished to prove the truth of the translation, 
fearing lest the Jews should attempt some unfair act by 
concealing the secrets ; but that subsequently when the 
interpretation was read before him, finding that the whole 
work was so conformable, God was glorified, making it 
manifest that the writing was divine, because from 
beginning to the end all their translations were expressed 
in the selfsame sentences and words throughout. Justin 
adds that this was known from the ancient histories to 
have been the fact, and that the king had employed great 
care that there should be no communication between one 
another during the time that the translation was being 
made ; for which purpose he placed guards and overseers, 
besides keeping them apart. 

All this is contradicted by our holy doctor, who calls 
this narrative a tale and a legend of old women, in the 

1 Philon. 2 De Vita Moists. 2 Tertullian, in Apologet. cap. 19. 

3 Euseb. lib. 5, Histor. Ecclesiast. cap. 8. 


Preface on the Pentateuch in these words : "I know not 
who was the inventor that with his lies built up the cells 
of Alexandria, in which the Seventy were placed thus 
divided and wrote the uniform translation, because neither 
Aristaeus, who was of the guards of the said King Ptolemy, 
nor Josephus, who lived long after, remembered nor re- 
ferred to any such thing ; rather to the contrary, they say 
that they were gathered together in one apartment, and 
that those who were writing conferred upon what they 
wrote, and did not prophesy." With two such grave 
witnesses as were Aristaeus, the historian of the act and 
actual witness of the deed, and Josephus, a man who 
was so jealous of the name and glory of his people, yet 
neither make a note of this, St. Jerome ventures to scorn 
the little cells. Subsequently Eusebius, although trans- 
lating from St. Irenaeus, in like manner did not deem it 
worth mentioning them, nor did they appear to him certain, 
in view that Aristaeus is silent about them. Without doubt 
had Tertullian, Philo, and Chrysostom any trustworthy 
notice of them, they would not have remained silent, 
because they purposely treated on the subject. Moreover, 
despite that these said authors state that it was a great 
marvel in the interpreters to agree so perfectly in the 
translation on every point, nevertheless they make no 
mention of any such cells, for, as it has been well said, 
it was no less marvellous to arrange in so short a time the 
translation uniformly; hence it appears to St. Augustine, 
in the place quoted in his Christian doctrine, that, accord- 
ing to both opinions, this concord and uniformity was an 
admirable fact. This sentence of our doctor seems the 
safest and most reliable, and satisfies some of the moderns 
such as Titelman and others, 1 for though some with small 
foundation reply that the work of Aristaeus which we now 

1 Titelman, in Prolog. Apol. pro Vulgato. Andreas Mapius, Prafatio'in Josue. 


have is a spurious one of the Rabbis, and not the true one, 
it matters little to the purpose, since we see and read in this 
one — such as it is — the same as is referred by Josephus, 
Tertullian, Eusebius, and our Jerome without a single 
deviation. And as regards what one of these moderns 
says, 1 who takes this very much to heart, so much so that 
he loses his head, that St. Epiphanius read Aristaeus and 
cites him, and remarks upon the little cells — a thing he 
would not have done if he had seen them reprobated in 
Aristaeus — is undoubtedly an argument about as strong as 
the genius of this author, who exercises himself but 
little in the rules of Dialectics, and knew few of those of 
scholastic theology, which in truth was necessary, in 
order, as he used to say, to challenge St. Jerome. Hence 
I say that if with this testimony of Epiphanius he still 
wishes to tell us that in his time Aristaeus was uncorrupted 
and without falsehoods, and that subsequently these were 
added, or assumed, it is a thing without any truth, because 
Josephus and Eusebius were more ancient than Epiphanius, 
and they found no such cells in Aristaeus. And if he further 
wishes to say that previous to Epiphanius the true Aristaeus 
had not been found, and that they had come upon him 
there, I ask of the first how does he know this, and why 
does he qualify from hence the works of Aristaeus, and 
make out some to be true and others false. Secondly, does 
he not perceive that St. Jerome dwelt for a long time 
with Epiphanius, with whom he often conferred, and they 
were very much attached to each other, Jerome being 
somewhat younger, and he says he read naught of this in 
Aristaeus, rather he reprobates that about the cells, and 
therefore it brings nothing to this testimony ; and it 
appears evident St. Epiphanius followed the reputation and 

1 Ludovicus Vives, cap. 42, lib. 18, De Civitate ; Leo Castro, Prsefat. in Comment. 
Isai, cap. 35. 


word of Justin and Irenseus, and differs from them in not 
assigning more than thirty-six cells, since all the rest set 
down seventy-two or none at all. 

From all this follows another question as to the 
authority and force of this translation, because some 
moderns wish to prove so much with all their genius 
that they were even prophets. 1 The chief reason is not 
a very good one, nor even safe, because the fountain 
whence it is taken is a small authority on this question 
of prophecy — it was Plato. He says in his Timceus that he 
was more worthy of the name of prophet, who could 
declare the prophecies, than the one who uttered the 
prophecy. He understood this as it sounds, and in 
particular to the purpose under discussion, since it is 
most false to say that if a prophecy is written in Hebrew 
or in Greek, and I should turn it into the vernacular or 
into Latin, that I am more of a prophet than he who 
prophesied it ; for holding to its force what it is to 
prophesy in its proper sense, as must be taken in regard 
to the sacred books, we should have otherwise to call 
prophets an infinite number of translators and interpreters. 
He assumes to prove this by a great crowd of authorities 
of saints, very proper in regard . to other purposes, as any 
one can see who has judgment ; but, in effect, no one is 
found to have said they were prophets but this author 
who dreams it. St. Jerome, speaking (as he well knew 
it would be said) on this case, says they were not 
prophets but interpreters, as we observed in the place 
above quoted of the Preface on the Pentateuch, and the 
same thing does he declare on the Hebraic Questions, and 
in the little book De Optimo genere Interpretandi, and in 
the Epistle to Sunia and Fratela. 

Despite the case to be so in regard to the power or 

1 Leon Castro, 4 lib. Apologet. circa Medium. 


property of prophecy, there is no doubt they were not 
prophets, yet it cannot be denied they were divinely 
excellent interpreters, and had received a very particular 
gift of the Holy Ghost for translating ; and from what we 
have said above it is proved, for they did not err in what 
they translated, but they in such a manner wrote down 
in the Greek language what God had said in the Hebrew, 
that they appeared to be rather prophets than interpreters, 
although in truth they were interpreters and not prophets. 
This verdict has been well received by the ancient writers, 
Aristaeus, Philo, Josephus, as well as by the Fathers of the 
Church, Justin, Irenseus, Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria, 
and the rest we have quoted from, and among them, as one 
who most approves of this view, is our saintly doctor, who, 
in the Preface on the Paralipomenon, says this almost 
in the first words : "Had the translation of the 
Septuagint continued in the purity and integrity with 
which it had been rendered into Greek, it would be a 
superfluous act, O Chromatius ! — among bishops most holy 
and learned ! — to induce me and constrain me to translate 
the Hebrew books into Latin; because what had been once 
sealed in their ears, and what had been created and con- 
firmed by the faith of the Church in its principles, would be 
just what we should by our silence approve. But as in each 
region there are diverse copies, and that first pure, genuine 
translation has become so adulterated and corrupted, you 
have trusted to my judgment that I should decide which 
among all these is the one most true, or that I should 
make a new one of the old, and that as to the Jews who 
scoff at us, we should, as says the proverb, make them 
stare. Alexandria and Egypt praise with Hesychius the 
Septuagint. From Constantinople to Antioch the copies of 
the martyr Lucianus are lauded. As regards the provinces, 
which lie between these, their people all read the volumes of 


Palestine which were published by Eusebius and Pamphilius 
from the works of Origen. The whole wonder is in these 
three diverse parts contending." 

In the second Preface on this same book he also 
speaks to the same purpose in these words : " I tell you 
the truth freely and simply (he is addressing Damianus and 
Rogatianus), that in such a way is this book of names 
vitiated and untruthful in the Greek and Latin volumes, 
that it does not appear so much a Hebrew book as an 
aggregation of barbarous names from Sarmatia. Yet 
this must not be attributed to the seventy interpreters, 
for, full of the Holy Ghost, they translated faithfully, but to 
the act of the writers who, from the fair and amended copy, 
transcribed falsely. Oftentimes does it occur that out of 
three names they form one, removing from the centre some 
letters ; at other times, on the contrary, out of one which 
appears overlong they form two or three." 

From both these places it is seen that St. Jerome does 
not reprehend the translation of the Septuagint as their 
own, but as blotted out and amended by the fault of the 
copyists, and neither Jerome nor any other saint denies 
that the Spirit of God enlightened them. What they 
do deny, then, is what prophecy properly is. It was 
undoubtedly a miracle and a clear proof of the assistance 
of God that so great a work should have been concluded 
so expeditiously, with so much faithfulness and concord. 
Hence does Philo say in the book of the Life of Moses 
that every year a feast is held in the place where the 
translation was done in order to celebrate the memory of 
so great a marvel. This is the authority which may be 
given to the Septuagint, and their translation is undoubtedly 
worthy of great reverence. From this we can almost 
divine the reason and the occasion the holy Pontiff had 
for beseeching our saint to undertake correcting the 



translation of the Psalms which were sung in the Church 
according to the version of the Septuagint, forasmuch as 
they were so badly set and far removed from the original 
integrity and faithfulness, that the books did not agree 
nor one church with the other. Some, in defence of this 
translation, allege that although deficient in some books, 
yet in others it was good ; that what in some was wanting 
would be found to exist in the others ; what in some was 
over and above, in others would be found removed and 
corrected. And I myself do not go against this ; never- 
theless it does not belie the truth of what has been said, 
that all this difference and variety of books were full of 
clear and manifest errors, from the fact of having introduced 
other translations in order to elucidate and correct them, 
and the stress that some churches followed the one and 
others followed another, that some were used in one part 
and others in another part ; so many opinions existing, 
and the want of conformity in all, or most of them, both 
among the Greeks as in the Latins ; all these considera- 
tions must have existed in the mind of the saintly Pontiff, 
and moved him justly and piously, and not without an 
especial impulse of the Holy Spirit — as the result demon- 
strated — to lay this undertaking upon St. Jerome. In 
obedience to so just and holy a request, as he himself tells 
us twice in the second book of the Apologia against 
Rufinus? St. Jerome undertook the work, and he says 
that he left the Psalter very much amended, and was so 
received by the city of Rome. And, if I mistake not, 
he also says in the seventh chapter that he did the same 
in respect to the translation of the Septuagint. This 
first work on the Psalms, which was only a correction 
of the one done by the Seventy, but which had become 
so vitiated both in the Latin and in the Greek, is 

1 Apolog. contra Rufin. lib. 2, caps. 7 and 8. 


called the Roman Psalter, and is the one that was used, 
and is still in use at the present day in the Church. Later 
on, independently of this one, he made another, because, 
owing to the judgment or the taste and opinion of such 
writers as would not give up the old errors, this version 
soon became corrupted in what had been amended. To 
this vitiation all books at that time were very much 
subjected, owing to all having to be done by the pen. 
This second emendation was made at the petition of 
Paula and Eustochium, but he did not call this an emenda- 
tion of the first, but a new translation of the Psalms in 
the Greek of the Septuagint into Latin. To this one he 
set lines, or, as others say, stars and asterisks in order to 
show what was over and above that of the Septuagint, and 
which was not found in the Hebrew, and the stars to mark 
what he had put in anew in accordance with the Hebrew 
truth. This Psalter was very well received in France, 
and Pope Damasus gave permission, as Sixtus of Sienna 
mentions, 1 for it to be sung in all its churches, hence it 
was called the Galilean Psalter. Lastly, he effected a third 
work on the Psalms : he translated them from the selfsame 
Hebrew fountain into Latin, nearly word by word. We 
have no record that any use was made of this translation 
by the Church. In Spain it was used in the Church of 
Oran, and in some others until later times, when, with the 
reformed Breviary, these also adopted the Psalms which 
the whole Church sings. Of this translation we shall 
speak further on. 

From what has been said, I deem that the disputed 
question among moderns respecting the truth and fulness 
of the translation of the Septuagint has been investigated, 
and whether it exists at the present day and whether 
there was one in the time of our saint. Notwithstanding 

1 Sixtus Senen. lib. 4, Biblio. verb. Hieron. 


that some may wish to maintain that now and in those 
earlier times there existed one which is still in its entirety 
and a very good one, and others may declare that it was 
not so, nor that a trace of it has remained, yet it appears 
that a medium term may be the safer to adopt between 
these two opinions as being more trustworthy, namely, 
that then and at present it existed, and that there is a 
translation of the Septuagint, but so corrupted and altered 
that it seems to be another. That there may be one, and 
that there was one, is undoubted, since in clear proof of 
this truth there are many testimonies cited by the 
ancient Fathers and by the Evangelists which are read in 
the self-same form in the Greek texts. Furthermore, it 
seems impossible that a translation so grave and so holy, 
so ancient and so well received in the world, should have 
been lost altogether, and that another one should have 
been preserved. It also appears evident that both now 
and in those days it was much altered and amended, 
with many deficiencies and additions, and with many 
errors. This fact our own doctor clearly proves at every 
step, more especially in the Proem of the Paralipomenon 
and of Esdras. One reason acts very strongly in proof 
of this. Philo says, in the second book of the Life of 
Moses, that this translation was so close to the text and 
so exactly made that any one knowing the two languages 
would be struck with its faithfulness, each name replying 
to its name, verb with verb, which is what we call to 
interpret faithfully. 1 The same does Aristseus affirm, 
saying that the concordance between the Hebrew and 
the Greek was admirable ; and at the end of the book 
which he wrote on this he says that, previous to the 
volumes being placed in the Royal Library, a diligent 
examination was made by learned men, and by them all 

1 Horatius, in Arte Poet. 


was celebrated by acclamation the fidelity and holiness of 
the work, so much so that nothing was found either to 
withdraw or to add, on comparing the translation with the 
original Hebrew. At present we have two impressions 
of this translation, both made with great care and 
diligence. One of these is in the body of the Royal Bible, 
which, at the expense and by order of the Catholic King 
Philip II., was made in Antwerp regardless of cost or 
trouble — a work truly worthy of so great a prince. The 
translation of the Septuagint which it embodies was taken 
from divers ancient copies, without following any one as 
being proper and chief among them, but solely seeking in 
all of them what seemed best to fit in, at times supplying 
it from the Hebrew, and, lastly, having recourse always to 
this fountain in all places where it appeared less exact 
what was found in the original Greek. This translation I 
would not call of the Septuagint, but a new one made from 
this collection of many by the judgment and free choice 
of those who did it. Neither in the Royal Bible is there 
found, nor did those who laboured in it add or erase, a 
single point from what they found in the Complutensian 
Bible, which was printed by Cardinal Fray Francisco 
Jimenez, the Archbishop of Toledo, who, at an incredible 
cost, had copies brought in Greek and Hebrew from Rome 
and all parts of the world in such sort, that there is no 
difference in the Royal one but in the beauty of its 
characters, though not in the rendering of the Septuagint. 
Another translation from the Septuagint has been made 
in Rome subsequently by the authority of Sixtus V., the 
labour of it and the undertaking having been entrusted 
to Cardinal Antonio Caraffa, Librarian of the Vatican, 
a very learned and pious man. This was printed in 
Rome, in the first instance, in the Greek language in the 
year 1586; the chief text of the original which was 


followed being that of the Vatican Library, which is proved 
to be over 1200 years old, and, as a consequence, before 
the time of Jerome, or at least not subsequent to him. 
Following this original there were others of Venice, 
Florence, and other parts. It represents much diligence, 
and undoubtedly was all that could be done in order to 
draw forth clearly that venerable work of antiquity, the 
holy translation, by which the Church was created and 
increased for many years, and it is quite reasonable to be 
held in great veneration. I believe that, without doubt, 
this is the one nearest to the one which in former times 
was called by the Greeks and the holy Fathers the Common, 
and the Latins, as well as by our holy father St. Jerome 
and others, the Vulgate, and that it was the one of the 
holy martyr Lucian, for which reason it was called Luciana. 
The Latin translation of this version was printed by 
the same Cardinal Caraffa in Rome, in the year 1588, 
endeavours having been made to adhere to the celebrated 
translation of St. Augustine which is styled the Italian, 
this one being the purest and most genuine of all those 
brought out at the time, and the one which most certainly 
our doctor amended, and the one that was commented 
upon by him, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Hilary, and 
other Fathers. These are the two translations of the 
Septuagint which we possess at the present day, and both 
these are very far removed from being a word-for-word 
translation of the Hebrew version, and so greatly praised 
by the ancient authors which existed between them, that 
there can be no doubt but that they differed greatly from 
that which the Seventy-two had made. 

After this translation, which we call the first from the 
Hebrew into Greek, there followed many others, but not 
until many years had elapsed. Aquila of Sinope, in the time 
of the Emperor Adrian, made another, which is the second 


from Hebrew into Greek. Subsequently there followed 
the one of Symmachus and Theodotian. Symmachus 
was a Samaritan in the time of Lucius Vero ; Theodotian 
of Ephesus in the time of Commodus, a Marcionite heretic ; 
the others were Judaizers. Later on there appeared two 
others, but without the authors' names, and were called 
fifth and sixth, because they held this place not only in 
the order of time, for one was in the time of Caracalla, 
and was found in Jericho, and the other in the time of 
Alexander Severus, and found in Nicopolis, but because in 
the Hexaplon and Octaplon of Origen they held that place. 
There was another of Lucianus, the martyr in the time -of 
Diocletian and Maximin, and called the seventh, and, as 
I have already said, was of the Septuagint, rather more 
amended than the others, and which was called the 
Vulgate and Common. Of this one it is affirmed that 
some parts have been retained in the Vulgate, which now 
is the only and authentic one in the Church. The 
Psalms, as we have already said, as they were corrected 
by St. Jerome in Rome, the respective Books of Wisdom, 
Ecclesiasticus, the Epistle of Jeremias, which was called 
Baruch, Esther and Daniel, and some others which are 
not received as authentic, as are the last ones of Esdras. 
Other Greek translations there were of lesser account. 
Some say (to return to our purpose) that the Hebrew 
one is wrong and not the translation of the Septuagint, 
hence it is nothing wonderful that it should not be in 
accord with it. 

These men do not perceive what they say, because 
even if the one of the Septuagint, which we now hold should 
be one and very exact, and not with so many variations as 
we have mentioned, even so, such an answer could not be 
allowed, because it is equal to saying that our Vulgate 
translation is erroneous, since it was translated from the 


Hebrew one, which they say is itself erroneous, and with 
which it accords without comparison better than with the one 
of the Septuagint. Whosoever would desire further proofs 
of this let him read the words of our holy doctor in his 
Preface on the Pentateuch, and the long Epistle to Sunia 
and Fratela, the Hebraic Questions, and the book De 
Optimo genere Interpretandi, and the Commentaries on the 
Prophets. And he who would maintain that it is very 
safe, and was so, we can also tell him that he must 
likewise confess that Origen laboured in vain at its 
correction, together with Hesychius, Lucianus, and 
our saint. These learned and diligent doctors were 
not behindhand in solicitude to gather the various 
originals, for undoubtedly they resorted to and consulted 
all that in those times could be found, searching and 
conferring and comparing them with those of the whole 
world ; nor do I know into what head or reason could it 
enter to imagine that at the present time we should have 
better originals than those which were available some 1 200 
years ago, and that now that should be pure and without 
vice which authors of such high judgment and great erudition 
in the knowledge of languages found and held to be vicious, 
and who laboured so hard to purify it and bring it forth 
clean, and were unable to do so. 

From this is seen also the great absurdity of declaring 
that the Hebrew text, which is extant now, must needs be 
amended by the text of the Septuagint, as is affirmed by 
an obstinate modern, 1 who, on perceiving that the Hebrew 
text, of which he has had but scanty information, does 
not agree with his cold inartistic allegories, at once 
concludes that it is due to the falsification of the Jews. 
Whether the Hebrew text be wrong or vitiated, we shall 
see further on ; at present it suffices to say that as a fact 

1 Leon Castro. 


never has the Church determined anything on this 
subject, neither has she wished that a single point of the 
text be touched, and that the books which are distributed 
throughout nearly all the nations of the world be found 
with points or without, all are alike in a manner, following 
a singular and admirable conformity, and such as have 
seen them in Spain, France, Italy, Flanders, Germany, 
and in Africa, all affirm and testify to this fact. While I 
myself can give testimony of those which exist in this 
royal library of San Lorenzo, that although brought to- 
gether from most varied provinces, in the original Hebrew 
texts of great antiquity all are found with divine uni- 
formity and union ; hence it would be a daring act with- 
out the authorisation of the Church to touch a thing so 
religiously preserved, trusting to his own wit and to no 
other translation. Furthermore we see that all those 
men who, from the time of our saintly doctor down to the 
present time, have had a knowledge of the holy language, 
have all found equally the text to possess this fulness and 
truth. Therefore let us ask : " Would it be well now to 
alter or corrupt it ? " 

No better occasion could be afforded the Jews in their 
hardness of heart, nor could it be disputed with them 
since the text and writing could not be brought to them 
by which they should be convinced which is the Hebrew 
one. Did not their malice and great blindness prevent it 
— they could be convinced, and the places and testimonies 
of Christ stand there as in its very fountain with all 
lucidity and unanswerable power. Nor do they deny this, 
for as regards this question they do not argue with us on 
the point, but whether what is there alleged against them of 
the truth of the Messias tallies with the life and deeds of 
Jesus Christ, and malice works with them so that they 
should not see the truth. All this would be without 


force, and lost, if in a single point the ancient truthfulness 
of that text should be altered to them. One thing do I 
find here in the translation of the Septuagint, said of the 
saints, which I do not know how to explain, nor how 
it agrees with what we have brought forward. St. 
Epiphanius in his Weights and Measures, and our holy- 
father in the prologue of the Pentateuch, and St. Augustine 
in the City of God} all affirm that knowingly and of set 
purpose the Seventy interpreters left out certain things 
and added others, and others, again, they altered from 
what was in the fountain and original, and this, by the 
impulse of the Holy Ghost, so as not to manifest the 
divine secrets to the pagan people. I confess I do 
not know what to reply, because, if St. Jerome himself 
and the other saints praise and hold that translation 
to be so divine, that they affirm that were it now as 
faithful a translation as it was first made, there would 
be nothing further to be desired, nor need to labour in 
making another, how does he bewail the great changes 
and alterations found in the original ? How does 
this agree with what we have shown above of the 
sentence of Philo and the self-same historian and wit- 
ness of the fact, Aristseus, who both declare the accuracy 
and harmony to be divine, and that the examination 
was great which was made by learned men, and all 
acclaimed the religious fidelity found in the translation ? 
How was it they did not see the faults, the additions, and 
the alterations ? Moreover, there is a thing which con- 
firms me in not believing this, that, if they kept silent 
or changed in order not to reveal the divine secrets in 
some places, how is it that others remained so clear and 
yet of greater importance ? For certainly in respect to 
those that remained, such as were omitted and changed 

1 August. 1 8 Book, De Civitate Dei, caps. 43 and 44. 


must have been very few, and not of equal power by far. 
This can only be replied to by saying that the saints 
piously sought some explanation to excuse the many de- 
ficiencies which were perceived in those times in the text 
of the Septuagint, for although they translated faithfully 
and religiously, yet by the action of time and the laxity of the 
copyists, that clear truth and purity became contaminated. 
Our doctor in the places quoted of the preface on the 
Pentateuch does not speak as his own verdict, but as the 
opinion of some Jews, who stated that the Seventy 
interpreters had concealed from King Ptolemy the 
mysteries of the Divinity and the plurality of the persons 
in order that it should not seem that they had departed 
from the sentence of Plato. It is not my office to point 
out in detail the errors and the differences of this 
translation. I only claim by this discourse to show the 
urgent occasion for the pious labours of this doctor, and 
the great service he thereby rendered our Holy mother 
the Church. 

If any one would wish to enter further into the matter 
I would refer him to the various authors and books cited 
already, where he will find so many details that he will be 
amply satisfied. An author of our days 1 has had the 
hardihood to write an apologetic against those who have 
clung to the Hebrew text, calling them all Judaisers 
and enemies of the Church, without omitting to class our 
saint among them, forsooth, because they did not follow 
the allegories issued from the workshops of Philo and 
Origen, whence all the Greeks drew theirs. More- 
over, he actually goes so far as to say that our saintly 
doctor retracted from what he had said against the 
Septuagint, if not with open words, as St. Augustine 
had done in order not to remove the authority of the 

1 Leon Castro, lib. 4, Apol. ante Medium, et in Prolegomen. caps. 8, 9, and 10. 


translation, at least covertly and skilfully. Similarly 
did Rufinus act when he accused the same saintly doctor, 
bringing this accusation against him of having "spoken in 
detriment of the Seventy reprobating them, and that 
afterwards he had retracted and abhorred the study he 
had made of the Hebrew tongue, and that the Hebrews 
had deceived him. All these falsehoods he gathered 
together, and made up a fictitious letter purporting to 
have been written by Jerome himself, in which he stated 
them. Let us now listen to what on this matter 
St. Jerome declares, so that in his own words we should 
reply to both these accusations. In the second book of 
the Apologia against Rufinus he says as follows : 1 — 

" Brother Eusebius writes to me that he found in the 
possession of the Bishop of Africa a letter purporting to 
have been written by me, in which I did penance and 
retracted and affirmed that men had induced me when I 
was a young man to translate into Latin the Hebrew 
books, in all which there is no truth whatever. I was struck 
with horror on hearing this, and whereas truth is to be 
found in the mouths of two or three, and one only 
witness, although he should be Cato himself, would be 
no authority, some other brothers who were in the same 
city wrote to me, asking me with great insistence if this 
could be true, declaring, with tears in their eyes, who it 
was that had divulged this Epistle. If he could dare 
to act like this, what can there be he would not dare to 
do ? Despite that malice has not such power as desire, 
yet doubtless innocence and virtue would perish were they 
to run equally with wickedness, and then power and 
malice would attain what they would. My style and the 
manner of saying things, such as it is, he knew not how to 
imitate, that most eloquent man, and he well manifests 

1 2 lib. Apol. contra Rufin. cap. 7. 


who he is in the midst of his falsehoods, despite he should 
disguise himself as the other person in whose character he 
had falsely arrayed himself. Thus it happens that he who 
counterfeited the Epistle under the name of my penance, I 
am also told reprehends me because my motive in interpret- 
ing the Holy Scriptures was none other than to condemn 
the Septuagint in such sort that, whether it be true what I 
have translated, or whether it be false, I cannot be free of 
crime, because I confess that in this my new work I have 
erred, or because the new translation does naught else 
but condemn the old one. I greatly marvel how in that 
Epistle he did not make me a homicide, an adulterer, 
sacrilegious and a parricide, and all else that turpitude 
could imagine and evolve within a mind. I feel con- 
strained to thank him for this much, that, amid such. 
a tangle of sins, he only accused me of the crimes of 
falsehood and of error." 

After this he goes on to say how greatly he had always 
held in esteem the Seventy, how he studied and expounded 
their translations, making use of this work in all his writ- 
ings in order to show that never did it enter his head to 
write or translate with the object of reprehending them ; 
because, to the contrary, he held their words as very high 
and divine, and his own work as very low. He compares 
the former to the gold and the silk that' were offered in 
the ancient tabernacle, and his own to the goat's hair and 
the hair cloth with which the tabernacle was covered ; and 
that his aim was no other than to give the Latin Church 
and his own brethren the truth and the purity of the 
divine letters according as he found it in the fountain and 
in the truth of the Hebrew text — to reveal the sacraments 
of our faith ; what things Christ and His apostles had 
written and taught, which things were neither found in the 
texts of the Septuagint nor in the others. 


All this he proves with clear words and manifest 
examples. And in the prefaces on the Paralipomenon he 
says as follows : " The apostles and evangelists were well 
aware of, and well read in, the version of the Seventy- 
interpreters. From whence did it come to them to declare 
so many things as we have cited which are not found in 
the Septuagint ? And our Redeemer Jesus Christ, Author 
of both Testaments, in the gospel of St. John 1 says : 'He 
that believeth in me, as the scriptures say, out of his belly 
shall flow rivers of living waters' Undoubtedly what 
Christ said was written, must indeed have been written 
down. But where is it written ? The Seventy for certain 
do not tell us, and the Church invests with no authority 
apocryphal things. Hence we must have recourse to the 
Hebrew books through which God spoke, and from which 
His disciples took the example. This I say with all 
reverence due to the ancients, for I only reply to those 
who attack me, and who reprehend me in public, whilst in 
secret they peruse my works, and those same constitute 
themselves both accusers and defenders. I call to mind 
that on one occasion I emended the translation of the 
Septuagint, and gave it to my Latin brethren from the 
Greek, and these will not make me say contrary to that 
which I always am declaring in my convent of friars." 
This same does he affirm in the Prologue on Esdras, 
when he challenges as witnesses to the truth of his 
translation all the Hebrews ; and that, should they find it 
different from the translation of the Septuagint, not to 
speak ill of it rashly until they have tested the truth. 
Moreover, his own brethren have no reason to value his 
labours at so low a rate, since the Greeks have held them 
in so high esteem that, despite that they are themselves 
proud that we have the Scriptures from them, yet they 

1 St. John vii. 38. 


surrender and acknowledge now that they even transcribe 
what he himself has translated from Hebrew into Latin, 
and from the Latin they pass it on to Greek. Again, he 
declares that he does this, not with the object of repre- 
hending the Seventy, but in order that what in their text 
is obscure and false, or what through neglect of the 
copyists has become defective, should thereby remain 
pure, entire, and clear in his translation. He goes on to 
refer what he had said in the prologue on the Psalter to 
Sophronius, and declares again that he does not effect the 
translation in order to reprehend the Septuagint, but to 
convince the Jews, who might wish to argue, not to bring 
forward what they used to say to Sophronius ; so that when 
they quoted the Scriptures from the translation of the 
Septuagint they would at once say, "It is not so in the 

Likewise I wish to point out another bold allegation of 
this modern writer. 1 Against the common consent of all 
learned and pious men up to the present time, he wishes 
to say that the translation of the Psalms, as is found in 
the works of St. Jerome, which he made conformably 
with the truth of the Hebrew text (as the saint him- 
self acknowledges he did), is really not his own, and 
this assertion he puts forward without giving any reason 
for this blind whim of his. Ever since the works of 
St. Jerome have been diffused throughout the world, these 
Psalms have been received as his work without contradic- 
tion whatever, and in truth they are worthy of the author ; 
and, indeed, in those far remote times there was no one to 
attain to this. Returning to the aim of our purpose, which 
is to manifest that St. Jerome never swerved from the rever- 
ence in which he held the Seventy-two interpreters, but that 
his holy and pure intention was to give the Church the 

1 Leon Castro, mitte in locis apologet. 


truth of the sacred books, drawing it forth from the limpid 
fountain ; and if in the translation of the Septuagint it is 
found otherwise, it is not any fault to discover what he 
found there ; this he confirms later on in this same book 
against Rufinus 1 by the preface which he wrote upon Isaias. 
He goes on to say that the book of Daniel was so corrupted 
in the Septuagint that already in his time that translation 
was not read in the Church, but the one of Theodotian. 
He concludes at the end of this book with the example of 
many other things which in the Hebrew text were very 
different to the text of the Septuagint, as in the words of 
the 22nd Psalm: 2 Deus mens, Deus meus, quare me dere- 
liquisti ? And he says the Septuagint added Respice in me, 
and many other things in this way. He concludes with 
these words : " I do not say this to discredit the Seventy 
interpreters, but because the authority of Christ and of 
His apostles is greater ; for where the translation of the 
Septuagint offers no discrepancy with the Hebrew original 
they allege their translation and employ it ; and where 
it differs, or is wanting, they put in Greek what they 
had taken from the Hebrew. Let my adversary and 
accuser do similarly, and in the same way as I have 
shown that there are many things in the New Testament 
which are not in the Septuagint but exist in the Hebrew, 
so also let him show me passages in the New Testament 
of the Seventy interpreters which are not in the Hebrew 
text, and I will acknowledge myself at fault (and this is a 
very telling reason for the moderns of our times who so 
greatly uphold the Septuagint). From the whole of this 
discourse it remains proved that the translation of these 
ancients (which from the antiquity of its use is confirmed) 

1 Contra Rufin. cap. 9. 

2 This, Leon Castro passed over, although he set the title of the Psalm and the 
following verse. 


is very useful in the Church, since by it the Gentiles heard 
that Christ was to come, before He came, and that not for 
that are all other interpreters to be reprobated, because 
they do not translate their own words but those that are in 
the divine books." 

Up to this are the words of the saint. From this 
we shall understand his mind and the holy motives 
which he had in this undertaking, and the error of 
those who imagine that he retracted having said that 
the Septuagint was very vitiated and corrupted in his 
time, be the cause whatever it may. And it is also made 
manifest how foolish it is for men to say, that owing to this 
the Hebrew text should be emended and be printed with 
this correction, and then translate it word by word as 
Pagninus did, and others have sought to do, for this would 
be to translate not divine words, but human thoughts. In- 
deed through not understanding the thread and coherence of 
the sentence and text of the holy writing, they resorted to 
allegories and a mystical sense in order to escape from the 
difficulties in which they found themselves. We have 
considered the first work of our doctor in the translation 
and emendation of the Psalms, and what there is in the 
Greek translations, their number, antiquity, and authority, 
and what is the feeling of St. Jerome on this question. 


Motives which urged St. Jerome to undertake the translation 
of the Scriptures into Latin from the Hebrew Text. The 
Truth and Fulness of the Text. Proofs are brought 
forward that the Vulgate Translation is St. Jerome's. 

Having commenced the question of the translations made 
by the glorious St. Jerome from the Hebrew into Latin, 
and not wishing to have to revert to the same subject, we 
deem it better in this discourse to bring the matter to a 

The service rendered by our .doctor to the Church by 
this labour was a very great one, and one for which we 
have the greatest gratitude to offer, because after the 
labours of the first princes of the Church, who were the 
apostles, there is nothing of higher esteem. In the former 
discourse we have presented some of the causes which 
must have urged him to carry out this work, but we merely 
touched upon them in passing, because we were proceeding 
forward with another aim, but in this discourse it will be use- 
ful to reveal them all here collectively from his own words. 
To me the strongest argument of all, and the one which satis- 
fies me in the belief that there was wanting in Holy Church 
an edition of the Scriptures with all that fidelity and purity 
which was required, was to witness the great impulse of 

the Holy Spirit which was moving so strongly this doctor 



to undertake so great a labour, so difficult a scheme, so 
arduous a task, without fear of contradiction, with a brave 
heart, ready to break lances with his adversaries and foil 
them all. And this is clearly seen to be the fact when we 
behold the Church putting aside what for so many years 
she had held, and with which she had been nourished and 
taught, that is to say, the version of the Septuagint, and 
all others of those times, which were many, and leaving 
them all aside, adopting the translation of one individual 
alone — that of a Jerome ! And in such a manner did 
Holy Church continue to follow it all through the ages 
that the Holy Ghost made known to His spouse by the 
formal declaration in the Council of Trent, at which It 
assisted, that this one translation of St. Jerome should be 
held as authentic, the only one which with its testimonies 
should qualify holy dogmas and doctrines. The Church 
does not condemn the other translations, for they are of 
great profit and are, as it were, native commentaries, which 
discover the pregnancy and bring to light great concep- 
tions ; but she does not wish them to have that authority 
and that force with which she invested the one sprung from 
the hands of Jerome, the Vulgate, proved by the testimony 
of so many ages. Let us say that the first motive was the 
command of Pdpe Damasus who, as chief and head of the 
Church, ordered him to do so, because, acting under this 
principle of obedience, all goes in harmony, and that the 
motive of the Pontiff in beseeching Jerome was at the 
impulse and the assistance of the Holy Ghost in the 
interior sense ; and in the exterior, the sight of the dis- 
sensions, variety, and dissonance which we have pointed 
out existed in the translation of the Septuagint, all of 
which could be remedied by Jerome bringing out a trans- 
lation from the Hebrew original fount and truth. 

It was from that source that the first translators had 


drawn it, if by the action of time and its inevitable 
changes, which in truth alters and obliterates all things, it 
had not also obscured it. From that same original source 
will St. Jerome bring its truth forth to the world, because 
he will not approach that fount of Hebrew truth with any 
smaller vessel and spirit than they did to collect it. This 
reason did the doctor himself point out in the prologue of the 
Paralipomenon in the words already quoted above. " Were 
the translation of the Septuagint," he says, writing to Chro- 
matius, " in the original purity in which they had left it, a 
superfluous thing it would be to ask me to make another 
translation." Then follows what he says in the prologue 
on Job. " Let those who bark at me," he says, " listen to 
the reason which moved me to translate this book. It 
was not the wish to reprehend the ancient translation of 
the Septuagint, but that the things which are in it obscure, 
or which were not said, or rather through the malice 
or deficiency of the copyists, became debased, should 
remain with our translation, clear and manifest." The 
third reason we touched upon already. The Jews used to 
jeer when , the Catholics approached them, wishing to 
manifest to them their perfidy and blindness with the 
power of the Scriptures. They would bring out the 
Septuagint ; they found a great want of harmony between 
the places quoted in the Greek and those which they knew 
well in their own text.; and whereas the incorruptibility 
of their Scriptures was held so certain, they would take no 
notice of what was quoted to them, rather they scorned us, 
and by merely saying, " that is not so in the Hebrew" they 
silenced every one. We have touched on what occurred 
to Sophronius and the Jew, for which reason did he so 
urgently insist that our saint should make the translation 
of the Psalms from the Hebrew into Latin. At the end 
of the above prologue St. Jerome expresses himself in 


this manner when writing to the same Sophronius. " It is 
one thing to sing the Psalms in Church with the faithful of 
Christ, and another to reply to the infidel Jews who wish 
to depreciate this Word." 

Also, it is a deep consideration that whereas in the 
Latin Church exists the Head and the true Vicar of Christ, 
to which resort must be had for the pure and wholesome 
doctrine, and the perfect comprehension of the holy 
Scriptures, it is in reason that in the Latin Church there 
should in like manner be the divine letters used, which 
should be translated with the utmost fidelity from the 
original fount, without recourse being had for them to the 
Greek Church. 

The Greek Church was unduly arrogant on that 
occasion, and even allowed herself to say that if there 
existed anything of good in the Western Church and in 
her doctors it had been taken and learned from her. All 
this became altered with the translation of our Jerome, 
and these lofty spirits were greatly humbled, translating 
the same holy Scriptures, on being convinced of its truth, 
from Latin into Greek, a thing they had never thought of 
doing. And if the times and the histories of that epoch 
are investigated we will find that ever since this translation 
of St. Jerome commenced to be used in the Church, 
the Latin doctors worked so advantageously that they 
surpassed the Greek ones, even as they themselves had 
formerly excelled the Latins. 

We will touch upon this motive with the words of our 
holy doctor, where he says as follows upon Esdras : " How 
much more grateful should the Latins be to me, since they 
beheld that through my translation the arrogance of 
Greece has been humbled so far as to take already some- 
thing from the Latin Church ! " In the same prologue he 
adds another consideration and motive, which is of no 


small weight. He says that at least his translation has 
this advantage — it saves great expense, and removes the 
occasion of many disputes and dissensions. First, because 
it were necessary, without it, to quote many volumes, 
gather together many translations and copies, which 
being all in manuscript at that epoch, were of great price 
and costly to obtain, the quotations having to be made 
only by much labour and a vast expenditure of wealth, not 
only as regards the translations of the Septuagint, but of 
many others by which the deficiences had been corrected, 
because no one trusted solely to them alone ; and to do 
this would be needed those of Aquila, Symmachus, 
Theodotian, and the others already mentioned of Origen, 
Lucianus, and Hesychius, fifth, sixth, seventh, and hundreth, 
an undertaking of infinite expense, not only of wealth 
but of time and life. Furthermore, to collate and com- 
pare some copies with others, a thing which would be 
needed at every step, would involve endless labour. The 
second and worst of all, that after this cost and labour 
nought would come from it but an occasion for dissension 
and confusion ; because the knowledge of the original 
Hebrew language being wanting, what judgment could be 
safely formed amid such a medley of Greek translations ? 
The more the research, the more they would err ; by 
multiplying translations they also multiplied dissensions. 
An example of this is afforded in the above-cited prologue 
to Esdras which the saint notices. 1 " Of a learned man of 
the Greeks, whom I suspect was Apollinaris, it is said 
that, although very erudite, yet through not knowing 
the Hebrew language, he oftentimes failed in following the 
meaning of the holy Scriptures, and proceeded to adopt 
the error of any interpreter, who came to hand. By this 
translation and pious undertaking, all these encounters and 

1 Prsefatio in Esdr. circa finem. 


dissensions would be obviated, which were constantly occur- 
ring in the House of the Lord, whose borders are peace. 
For despite that in the supposition of all agreeing to 
accept the version of the Septuagint, there would arise the 
difficulty of selecting one out of the variety which is found, 
now that it numbers some hundred versions. Because, as 
the saint said in the prologue of the Paralipomenon, 
Alexandria and the whole of Egypt laud the one of 
Hesychius, the priest of Jerusalem. Constantinople and 
all Asia Minor, as far as Antioch, read that translation 
which had been most emended, which one, as we have 
seen, is that of Lucianus Martyr, which version has 
also extended as far as Rome, and through the Latin 
Church, the seventh called the Vulgate and common 
one, of Lucianus, the priest of Antioch, and afterwards 
Bishop of Nicomedia ; whilst Palestine and all that part 
between these extremes celebrated the one emended by 
Eusebius and Pamphylius, following the careful version 
of Origen. All this was obviated by the labour of St. 

And let it be as a conclusion and end of all these 
thoughts and reasons which moved him to break through 
the dilemma, and open a path to all Latins, for them to 
attempt the mastering of tongues, especially the Hebrew, 
which had been hitherto deemed inaccessible to them. 
He was the first of all we have any record of who van- 
quished this difficulty ; after him came others, trusting so 
happy and saintly a guide, and at length the way of 
acquiring the Hebrew has been made so straight, so much 
so that none can be acquired with greater brevity, and the 
study of this language has flourished in the Roman 
Church to such a degree that an infinite number of things 
of great depth and importance in our faith have been 
cleared up and made known, a fact which the Greek 


Church never attained to do. All this we owe to St. 
Jerome ; all these are benefits obtained of him, and as his 
they are acknowledged by all learned men, who even hold 
him before their eyes as their patron and example. Our 
saint touched also on this motive in the Apologia against 
Rufinus in the above-cited place. On this account, and 
for all those other reasons the holy Pope Damasus and 
those who succeeded him, ordained that it should be read 
in the Latin Church, and that it should be received as a 
gift and a mercy sent from heaven, setting aside that of 
the Septuagint and all others of minor authority. And 
let it be observed that from the times of St. Augustine 
onwards no doctor has commented or written upon any 
other translation but that of St. Jerome, although at times 
they may have taken advantage of the others, but no 
more than as a help. 

From this, unless I view it wrongly, remains de- 
termined in my opinion that question which many 
think of great account, 1 whether or not the text of the 
Hebrew became corrupted or erroneous through the 
malice of the Jews. Certainly those who affirm it do not 
view it in the right light, that it was falsified in times 
previous to those of our doctor St. Jerome, and in such 
sort that there remained no prophecy of Jesus' Christ but 
which was dimmed by some falsity and error. I would 
ask them, If this be so, how or what kind of translation 
would St. Jerome bring out from it? The Vulgate 
translation, which the Church now uses, and has done so 
for so many ages back St. Jerome drew from the Hebrew; 
if that was tainted and corrupted it could not, without 
doubt, come out a clear version nor a true one ; forsooth, a 
fine version of the holy Scriptures would the Church hold 

1 Leon Castro in Apologet. lib. I, cap. I, et per totum opus; Cano, de locis, lib. 2, 
cap. 13 ; Jacob. Christopolitanus, prafatio in Salm. 


in the opinion of such men. St. Jerome, when writing on 
the 6th chapter of Isaias, says : " If any one should say that 
after the coming of Christ and the preaching of the 
apostles and publication of the gospels, the Hebrew books 
were falsified, let him hear Origen, who replies to this in 
the 8th volume upon Isaias." And the reply consists in 
this deep reason by which our doctor became convinced, 
and so will any one else be convinced. If the Hebrews 
falsified the writing and effected this before the coming of 
Christ or after — if before, why then did not Christ and the 
apostles reprehend them as falsifiers, and pointed them out 
as guilty of a grave crime, as they had reprehended others 
for what in comparison to this crime was much less grave ? 
Had this been the case, our Lord would not have told 
them through St. John, Search carefully the Scriptures, 
because they give testimony of Me, rather He would have 
said, " The Scriptures which spoke of Me you have corrupted, 
or you will do so later on." 

Such as should desire to enter further into this subject 
of the disputes in regard to various translations may do well 
to read Driedo 1 in the second volume of his dogmas of the 
Church and of the Scriptures, and many other moderns 
who have taken up this question and made it their study, 
because as for my purpose, which was to make manifest 
the reasons for the pious labours of this glorious doctor, 
and what moved him to undertake them, I think I have 
said enough. 

It is, however, necessary, in order to complete fully 
the aim of this discourse, to investigate what appertains to 
the history of the saint, whether the Vulgate translation 
which the Church holds, and has used so many years up to 
the present, is the same which St. Jerome made. Should 

1 Driedo, 2 Dog. Eccles. 3 ; Sixtus, Senens. ult. cap. Bibl. Sancta ; Euseb. Disputa- 
tiones propria ; Joan. Picas Miran. disp. propria. 


there be no further arguments of more convincing power 
to prove the truth of this statement than the one that by 
common consent, and as is said in public law-courts, the 
public voice and fame of the whole Church, it has been 
upheld and established in the hearts of the small and the 
great, in past times and in these, having been handed down 
from generation to generation, and from mouth to mouth, 
would suffice, and be an evident argument of sufficient 
strength. The defence of this part has been undertaken by 
some of the learned men of our time, and they have removed 
all, or nearly all, the labour from the shoulders of others by 
their erudition and deep study of history, and therefore I will 
do no more than briefly gather together what will suffice to 
me for this purpose ; whosoever would wish to go into this 
in a more extended form may consult those works which 
are at hand. 1 

In order not to be disturbed by the opinions and the 
reasons of a few who hold that it is not Jerome's, we will 
proceed to consider it in parts. 

It seems undoubted Jthat the New Testament is a 
translation of his, and that at least it is the one he 
emended and corrected from the Greek text ; and from 
his own writings it is gathered, because in all places 
which the holy doctor reprehends in the ancient 
translation, which was in use in his time, we find them 
corrected as he said they should be corrected. These are 
manifest, and there is no need to refer to them in detail ; 
and modern writers who have treated on this subject 
repeat the same thing. The doctor, when speaking of his 
own writings in his book on the Illustrious Men, says that 
the New Testment was by him restored to its first and 
primitive sense, and that the Old Testament he had 
translated according to the Hebrew text. From this 

1 Auctores supra citati. 


some x have argued that he did not make a translation, 
but an emendation, since he distinguishes between the 
Old and the New Testament, saying that the one was a 
translation and the other a restoration to its original 
entirety. And in the prologue to St. Damasus on the Four 
Gospels he says as follows : " You compel me to make a 
new translation of the Old Testament, and that after so 
many copies of the Scriptures are scattered throughout the 
world I should enter in as judge, and that whereas they 
are all in disagreement I should determine which, or what, 
is what best corresponds with the truth of the Greek text, 
a pious work, but a dangerous presumption to judge others 
by one who is to be judged by all." 

Farther on he says : " The present little preface only 
promises the four gospels, the order of which is Matthew, 
Mark, Luke, and John, emended, comparing them and 
collating them with the Greek books and with those of the 
ancients in order not to deviate much from the Latin 
version in use ; and in such a manner do we temper and 
moderate them that on correcting the places in which the 
sense appeared altered, all else remained as it was." The 
same does he repeat on the canonical epistles in a prologue 
to the virgin Eustochium. " Many days ago," he says, 
" did we correct the gospels according to the truth of the 
Greek text." From these passages and testimonies it 
seems a more proper manner of speaking to say that he 
emended the New Testament rather than that he made 
a new translation. But in whichever sense we may take it 
we can well say that it is all his own, because what he took 
away was taken away, and what he judged right to take 
and read from the ancient, that remained and was read, 
and is read now. 

That all this was ordered to be received throughout 

1 Pagnin. Prafatio in Bid/. Paulus Sempronitis, lib. 2. 


the Church by Pope Damasus, at whose petition Jerome 
had effected that version, and that it was accepted in its 
entirety, appears to be gathered from an epistle which 
St. Augustine wrote to St. Jerome, 1 where he says that 
his translation and emendation was collated with the 
Greek text when anything new occurred, and that it was 
found to be most faithfully done in the original Greek, 
so as to convince all. From this may be gathered 
that in those days the New Testament was already 
in the hands of all, under the title of the emended 
translation of St. Jerome, and it will be found that 
no author, whether ancient or modern, puts aside this 
translation or ignores it, nor that any other was received, 
and therefore as a consequence there is no reason for 
doubting that the New Testament of our Vulgate had any 
other author for its translation but St. Jerome. 

Some say that there are passages found which are not 
corrected, as the saint said they should be. In the epistles 
to the Galatians and the Ephesians and to Titus there 
are passages where he says so. I reply that in the prologue 
of the gospels quoted above, written to Damasus, he con- 
fesses that he did not correct all he saw could be corrected, 
so that it should not appear that he altered many things, 
and be thought over particular ; and it might be that when 
he was writing the commentaries on these same Epistles he 
might have deemed that it were well to alter them, yet 
subsequently, when viewing it in another light, he judged 
best to leave them as they were, and not effect so great a 
change from the ancient version. And it stands true that 
he wrote these commentaries before he made the transla- 
tion of the New Testament, for he himself says so when 
speaking of his works and writings in the book on Illus- 
trious Men. And now it is seen from these same passages 

1 August. Epist. 10. 


that the Vulgate translation which he made is more in 
conformity to the Greek text than the one he wished to 
correct when commenting in regard to the translation of 
the Old Testament. We have already said that the Psalms 
are from the translation of the Septuagint, corrected 
by him carefully twice over, and not the translation he 
made into Latin, which is to be found among his works, 
nor the one he made from the Greek, according as it was 
in the originals of Origen. This is manifestly so from the 
Epistle to Sunia and Fratela, where he sets many verses 
which are expressed in a very different manner in the 
Septuagint from what he had emended ; and that which is 
found in the Vulgate is the one he emended, and therefore 
is also called Vulgate and Common, as we proved above. 
Thus likewise it appears evident that the books of Wisdom, 
Ecclesiasticus, Machabees, and others we have already re- 
ferred to, are not his translation, but were those that 
remained from the ancient and common one. And this 
is proved because never did the saint mention having 
translated them, nor is there found any prologue upon 
them. And in an Epistle to St. Augustine 1 he affirms 
that to all the books he translated he made a prologue. 
He did not wish to work upon these because he did not 
hold them authentic, rather he reckoned them among the 
apocryphal ones, as is seen in the Prologue to the Galatians 
and the Prologue on Proverbs. St. Cyprian 2 and other saints 
quote many passages in these books with the same transla- 
tion as we have now, and some of these were in times 
previous to St. Jerome ; whence is seen that the ancient 
one remained without the saint approaching it. All the 
rest of the books of the Old Testament as it stands in the 
Vulgate are his translation from the Hebrew. This is 

1 Epist. 11, Inter Epistolas 8, August. 
2 Cyprian, Lib. de Exhortation Martyrii. 


proved by many reasons. First and foremost, that St. 
Jerome was the first and only one among the ancients who 
translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew into Latin. 
This translation is clearly seen to have been from the 
Hebrew, with the exception of the books we have men- 
tioned, and there is to all appearances no doubt that it was 
his. In all his prologues he complains of, and replies to, 
his adversaries who reprehend him for daring to undertake 
this work, since it had never been attempted by any Latin. 
From those remote ages we have no notice of any author, 
who, I do not say made a translation, but who even so 
much as knew the Hebrew language ; and if this be not 
so, let our opponents tell us who he was. From some 
Epistles of St. Augustine, 1 and from his books of the City 
of God, this is proved. St. Isidore 2 says as much. Likewise 
St. Gregory, the Pope, allows it to be seen how it agrees 
with the Hebrew and how greatly it differs from the Greek, 
and it is clearly gathered that it did not come forth from 
this streamlet, but that it was collected from the fount. 
In the reckoning and manner of counting the years the 
same thing is found, because in the Greek it is very much 
in error, more especially in cap. v. in Genesis ; while in 
our translation it corresponds well with the Hebrew text. 

To those who love the truth, and are obedient to the 
Holy Church of Rome, the determination of the Holy 
Council of Trent is sufficient, for it bids us receive them 
as authentic, and as for the rebels, disobedient, and evil- 
minded, neither reason nor authority are of any avail, since 
all the virtues departed with their loss of faith, leaving them 
unbridled to say what is abhorrent to the pious and the 
single minded, and only fit for their own evil hearts. Many, 
as saintly as they were erudite, have replied to these 

1 August. Epist. 8 and io, lib. 18, De Civit. cap. 43. 
2 Isidore, Etymolog. cap. 5. 


opponents, and in order to remove all occasion to the evil- 
minded, two supreme pontiffs, Sixtus V. and Clement VIII., 
ordained, in fulfilment of the ordinances of the Holy Council, 
to have a Bible printed with the Vulgate translation, without 
the varied lessons, selecting (as it may be believed with 
great prudence) the most coherent and best received lessons. 
And in it will be found nothing but what is in harmony 
with the Christian religion and the doctrine taught by the 
Holy Roman Church, which she carries written not alone 
on parchments and paper, but engraved on the living 
tables of her heart by the very finger of God, which is 
His Holy Spirit. 

Let this suffice which we have briefly stated, and we 
will proceed in the history of the saint's life, and consider 
when and on what occasions he translated the books of the 
holy Scriptures. He did not translate them all in Rome, 
nor was it possible that St. Damasus should have seen 
them all translated, nor even the greater portion of the 
books, as we shall clearly prove. The New Testament, 
the Psalms, and some others he may have seen done, as 
we have already stated. 


St. Jerome translates the Sacred Scriptures into Slavonic. 
He arranges the Divine Office 

At this point of our history it becomes opportune to consider 
another very pious and holy work which St. Jerome under- 
took in regard to the sacred Scriptures, and by so doing we 
will fulfil our promise of concluding the subject. 

Some authors state that he also translated the holy 
books from the Hebrew into the Slavonic tongue, this 
being the common language spoken in his native place. 
I believe he undertook this labour and brought it to a 
conclusion whilst dwelling in Rome. This appears plausible, 
forasmuch as his own compatriots must have become aware 
that he had left the desert and had returned from Syria to 
the holy city, that he held a distinguished position, and 
was renowned for his sanctity and doctrine, since his fame 
had penetrated to every part ; and it is quite in reason that 
they should have sought him out, wishing to converse with 
him, being as he was of such noble parents, relatives, and 
friends. Whether it was because he was besought by his 
own countrymen, or because the saint was grieved at 
witnessing so much barbarism, so little refinement, not only 
in the customs of ordinary life, but in the religious one, 
that, burning with the ardent desires for working good for 
the salvation of souls — the service of God — in order that 



His holy laws should be made known, considering himself 
a debtor to the uninstructed as well as to the learned, 
placed as he had been by God in the Church, he under- 
took three works of great labour and of much fruit on 
behalf of that people. The first was to invent and form 
characters, proper letters for them to write their own 
language. It was different from the rest, from the Hebrew, 
and the Greek, and the Latin, not only in speech and 
accent, but even in substance, without any analogy to 
them, and therefore it was well that it should differ also 
in the form of the letters. That people were so plunged 
in barbarism and bereft of culture that they neither knew 
how to read or write their own tongue. There was nothing 
more required of our holy patriarch to do but this work in 
order that it might be said of him that in all things which 
were rare and exceptional in letters he was truly unique. 
In the knowledge of theology and the sacred Scriptures 
he was equal to the best, and hone exceeded him, since 
among the greatest he was master. In the contemplation 
of moral and natural philosophy the best of the Greeks 
could not excel him. In the knowledge of tongues and 
variety of erudition there was no one of his time to com- 
pare with him, nor indeed in previous ages. He only 
needed to be the inventor of new characters and letters, 
and be, so to say, the father of some new language 
in order to be the equal of the celebrated Cadmus of 
Phoenicia, inventor of letters according as the world has 
received it — I know not whether this question has been well 
understood or investigated — of Palamedes, Simonides, 
Epicarmus of Greece, of Toot or Taanto of the Egyptians, 
and so worthy of having applied to him the two versicles 
of Zeno in praise of the first : — 

Sum patria Phoenix, quis livor ? sum tamen ille 
Cadmus, cui debet Graecia tota libros. 


And of our doctor we can well say, not only that the 
Slavonians owe to him all books, but all the Church. The 
second labour was to set in order the divine office in the 
same language for them, the manner of conducting prayer 
in the Church, the celebration of mass and all appertain- 
ing to the Christian doctrine under the same order and 
skill as he had arranged in the Latin Church for her 
supreme head, which is Rome, to the great glory of that 
country. The third labour of his was to translate all the 
books of the Bible into the same language, in order that 
these Slavonians should not be deprived of so great a 

Blondo, in his book De Italia Illustrata, when treating 
on the eleventh region, which is Istria, says as follows : 
" There are many who believe that St. Jerome was a 
native of Dalmatia because he was the inventor of the 
letters they use, which are different from the Latin and the 
Greek, and which subsequently were called Slavonic by the 
people who anciently in Germany were called Slavonians 
and now are called Bohemians. And not alone did he 
invent and compose letters for those peoples, but he also 
translated from the Greek into this new language the 
divine office, which Christians universally use even now. 
This boon was confirmed to them by Eugenius IV. of 
glorious memory, the matter having passed through our 
hands on the occasion when in Florence the union was 
effected of the Greeks and Armenians ; and the Jacobites, 
Nestorians, and Ethiopians received from the same Pope 
Eugenius the laws and decrees by which they were to be 
governed." From these words of Blondo is clearly 
gathered how well established it was in all Dalmatia, 
Pannonia, and Bohemia, that St. Jerome had effected these 
labours and given the people these books, since with no 
manner of doubt did they acknowledge them as his. And 


whereas he arranged for them, and translated the divine 
office, as it was generally recited in the Church, into that 
singular language and new writing, therefore he must also 
have done the same with the holy Scriptures, of which, as 
we have seen above, the whole was recited and read during 
the course of the year. And in those times the lessons were 
not so short or so curtailed as they are now (this being due 
to our own tepidity and want of fervour) ; rather there was 
nothing left in the book which contained the lessons but 
which was read. Let it be understood that the Church has 
never absolutely prohibited the translation of the sacred 
Scriptures into the common languages, for the catalogue 
ordered to be made by Pius V. in the fourth ruling permits 
the perusal of the holy Scriptures in the vernacular to such 
as in the opinion of the prelates might be a source of 
spiritual profit. Holy Church does not wish holy writ 
to be handled except with great reverence, nor made 
common, nor that in the use of the Church and her offices 
the lessons which are worthy of the highest reverence 
be read in the common language — this is also a sentence in 
the Tridentine Council, 1 but only in those three languages 
which it pleased God to honour by placing them in the 
title of the Cross at His Crucifixion, viz. : Hebrew, Greek, 
and Latin — in which languages from the beginning the 
holy book had been written. It is a singularly admirable 
fact and worthy of consideration, that never have the sacred 
Scriptures been read or sung in the divine office in any 
language which could be called common to all, neither 
among the Jews nor among the Greeks or the Latins, 
for when the Scriptures have been read in the temples and 
synagogues few of the people understood them, and we 
have clear proof that since the time of Esdras at least the 
sacred language was not common to the Jews. From 

1 Session 22, cap. 8 et 9. 


chapter viii. of the second book of this great scribe it 
stands that the Scriptures were read in Hebrew and not in 
Syriac or Chaldean, and that it was not understood unless 
it was explained to them ; and therein it is said that the 
people greatly rejoiced when Esdras and the Levites 
explained to them the law. Since that time until the 
present in all the synagogues the Testament is read in 
Hebrew, which is understood only by the teachers who 
study it carefully. 

As regards the Greek language we also find that in the 
time of our saintly doctor throughout the east, the transla- 
tion of the Septuagint was read under the divers corrections 
of Lucianus, Origen, and Hesychius. We also know that 
the Greek language was not common in all the provinces 
therein referred — Antioch, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine ; 
while in Galatia, which stands between Antioch and Con- 
stantinople, Greek was not spoken, but a kind of French 
or a language derived from Treves, a place on the 
confines of Germany and France, as the saintly doctor 
says in the prologue to the epistle to the Gala- 
tians. 1 Who it was who took this language there, and 
how, will be shown later. Syria had a language of its 
own, Egypt also. Our saint says that the great Father 
Anthony wrote some epistles in the mother tongue of 
Egypt. De Efren says that he wrote many things in 
Syriac, and here in this royal library of San Lorenzo are 
extant his homilies, with letters and in a language which 
are now used by the Armenians. And what is more, 
Pontus, Cappadocia, Asia Minor, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, 
despite that the language spoken there resembles some- 
what the Greek, nevertheless varies so much that the 
people of the different places can scarcely understand each 
other. As regards the Latin, it offers no difficulty, for all 

1 Prsefat. in 2 lib. Com. Epist. ad Galat. 


know the language, and it is worthy of note that although 
Africa has produced so many singularly learned men in 
letters, we know of no one throughout its vast extent 
who has translated the sacred writings into the Punic, 
African, or Phoenician tongues, for thus does our doctor 
call the latter when writing on the Epistle to the Galatians, 
because that tongue came from a part of Syria called 
Phoenicia. Yet the Latin tongue, in which the sacred 
Scriptures were always read in Africa, was never a 
common language nor vulgar, as may be seen in St. 
Cyprian 1 and in St. Augustine. 2 In Spain it is proved 
from St. Isidore in the books of the Divine Offices, that the 
sacred Scriptures were always read in the Latin tongue. 

The same is proved from the Council of Toledo, book 
iv. chapter xi., wherein is ordained and disposed the order 
in which the divine offices were to be performed, and in 
chapter xii. and in others it appears they were said in 
Latin ; and it is very certain that it is now over 900 years 
since the use of Latin was lost in Spain, indeed there is 
no certitude that Latin was ever used as a common 
language. Our saint gives us to understand that in the 
Balearic Isles there was spoken a language which was half 
Greek, at least this was the case after the Goths entered 
into Spain when the Romans left in her were exter- 
minated, now more than a thousand years ago, Latin 
became so little used and so forgotten through the prepon- 
derance of the Goths that it became very rare. On 
the other hand the Moors of Africa by their entry destroyed 
what relics remained, and poor Spain became filled with 
uncouth languages and barbaric expressions of which 
she will never again be altogether freed. England and 
Scotland (called under the name of Albion or Britannides 

1 Cyprian, Sermo de Oratione Dominica. 

2 August. 2 De Doctr. Christian, c. 13. 


by Dionysius and Ptolemy) have had many changes of 
language, yet never have they had the sacred Scriptures 
made in any of them but only in the Latin, as is affirmed 
by Bede * in the first book of the history of these peoples. 
The same is affirmed by Waldensis. 2 In France it was the 
same, never was the Latin tongue a common language, as 
is proved by Albinus Flaccus Alcuin, the preceptor of 
Charlemagne in the book On the Divine Offices, and 
Amalarion who flourished in the year 840. That in 
Gaul (many provinces are included under this name) 
there should have been many differences of the common 
language is a thing well known by every one, and some of 
these languages are said to be of such antiquity that it has 
been even said they were previous to Latin and Greek, 
and that these had their origin from them. 8 Our great 
Father, to whom naught that was good of ancient times 
was unknown, says in the second prologue to the Epistle 
to the Galatians, that previous to the occupation of the 
Gauls by the Franks, Latin was very different to that of 
the Gallic language, which is a good argument in support 
of its antiquity. In Italy without doubt the sacred 
Scriptures were always read in the Church and divine 
offices in the Latin tongue, and the order of the offices 
was the same as now since the times of our saint, as we 
have already proved. Latin was not, nor ever has been, 
common there, but there have been other common 
languages. Radevicus, 4 an historian of some centuries 
back, in the Book ii. of the Deeds of Frederic says that 
at the election of Pope St. Victor the people cried in 
acclamation Papa Victore Sante Pietro Pelgge ; whence it 
is seen how debased the Roman tongue was at the time in 

1 Beda, /. Histor. Anglic, cap. i. 

2 Waldens. t. 3, Sacrament, tit. 3 et 4. 

3 Gorop. in Hermaten. 

4 Radevicus, lib. 2, cap. 20. 


Rome. St. Thomas Aquinas, writing some hundred of 
years back in his commentaries on chapter xiv. of the 
Epistle to the Corinthians, says that in his time it was 
quite another language which was spoken by the people 
commonly, to the one in which the Scriptures were read in 
the Churches. 

From all this discourse we have clearly seen that in 
the Church, universally speaking, the sacred Scriptures 
have not been read but in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin ; 
and this fact admits of no manner of doubt or exception. 
Moreover, that these three languages are very rare, and 
never been vulgar and common, in this way, that to the 
people they should be as common as those they familiarly 
speak and converse in, but that they have a distinction 
and separation as a fact of especial consideration and 
mystery, as things set apart, which suffices to confound 
the hardihood of those who feel to the contrary, and would 
wish to profane the divine mysteries ; and an all-sufficing 
argument to quiet the desires of some of the faithful, who, 
under the plea of zeal for some good, but not according to 
science, wish to introduce this, for it is clearly seen that 
God has never willed to permit this in any period, or time, 
or nation, and it is well that these should conform their 
wills and their purposes to what is manifestly by a long 
experience the will of God and the desire of the Church. 

If St. Jerome translated the Scriptures into the common 
language of Slavonia, it was to remedy, in his great zeal, 
the native uncouthness of the inhabitants of that country. 
This in truth was the intention of our saint in undertaking 
these labours and holy occupations, although he does not 
actually point it out in his works. This subject of the 
Slavonic language is so strange and obscure that such as 
have striven their utmost to investigate the origin of the 
Gothic nations and northern countries cannot come to any 


explanation, and admit their ignorance of its antiquity and 
its character. 1 I believe that they themselves ignore it. 
Probably the Slavonians, being ignorant of their own 
antiquity and the derivation and origin of their tongue 
and characters, in the time of Eugenius IV. were minded 
to take for their patron St. Jerome,' and exalt their 
country and language by the labours of so great a saint. 
The fact of the Slavonians having in their language the 
divine office and nearly the whole of the sacred writings 
might very well have come by another way, let us grant 
this to have been so, because the traditions of a country 
can effect much, and in matters of history are of great 
authority. Should it have been St. Jerome who trans- 
lated all this into the common language of the people, we 
can perceive the good reason he had for it, and the holy 
motives which may have urged him to do so. Similarly 
does ^Eneas Sylvius speak 2 of the Pope allowing the 
natives of Moravia leave to celebrate the divine offices in 
the language of the Slavonians some hundreds of years 
before. The same permission was granted to the Ruthenians, 
Armenians, Egyptians, and Ethiopians in their vulgar 
tongues. To the first named this permission was neces- 
sary and urgent, because the whole of that kingdom was 
converted to the faith at once ; they had no ministers who 
knew Latin, and these could not easily be brought from 
other places, and it was a lesser inconvenience to permit 
them to celebrate in their own language than to deprive 
them of the sacraments and the divine offices of the 
Church. Thus also did it seem to our saint, and to the 
intent that the inhabitants of Dalmatia or of Istria, who 
spoke Slavonic, should not remain without this spiritual 
light and attainment he did this work. 

1 Joan Grap. De Origine. Antwerp, lib. 7. Gotodanica. 
2 De Origen Bohem. cap. 1 3. 


Never has there been a nation in the world, whatever 
its religion might be, or what gods they might profess to 
worship, but separated their sacred things from things 
profane, and made some distinction from the common. 
It has been, so to say, a first principle established in the 
hearts of those, who have honoured anything as divine, 
never to make it common or to vulgarise it. The ancients 
perceived all this, hence they observed this reserve in 
sacred things, they kept from vilifying and profaning them, 
and this also does holy Church practise and keep with far 
greater reason. 


The Life led by St. Jerome in Rome. The Exercises he 
practised. What Effects his Words and Example 

Having seen in a cursory manner what things St. Jerome 
had effected in the universal service of the Church, by- 
employing his powers and genius to the widening of 
her state, things, in truth, of so much worth and weight, 
the foundation of all that is erected in this beautiful body, 
it will be as well now to proceed revealing, step by step, the 
details of his life. The details concerning the small things 
of this saint are of no little importance, because, although 
at the time they may have seemed small, their results were 
great, or better said, they became extended and widened 
to the universal benefit of the faithful. The lives of holy 
and learned doctors partake of such grandeur, that what 
appears small in them is in truth the seed of great fruits ; 
they are like the stars in the firmament of the Church (as 
St. Paul compares them), which, albeit some may seem so 
small to our sight, yet, if any of them were wanting, a gap 
would be caused in the ordering of the influence which they 
exercise in the world. Such also are the arrangements in 
this living heaven and firmament of the Church, that from 
even the smallest of these planets of hers so much profit 
descends to us, that if any of these, so to say, small things 



be wanting, it would cause great damage in us. The 
course of life which the holy doctor followed in Rome, as 
we have already hinted, was of such a kind that in no one 
point did it differ from the life he lived in the desert; he 
only bodily changed the place, the soul was always in the 
same condition. Neither the rank of priest of Antioch, 
to which he had been raised by Paulinus, influenced him 
to withdraw one hair's-breadth from his strictness of life, 
nor the great intimacy to which he was admitted by 
Damasus, nor even the Cardinalate of Rome, caused him 
to turn away his gaze from the aim of the purpose of his 
life. The same hard life and manner of treating his body, 
the same strict fasts did he pursue. Under his outward 
robes he wore a rough hair-shirt, and his bed and food and 
other necessaries of common life were like those of Nitria 
and Palestine. Only one thing, the occupations of the 
day, was different, to his sorrow. In his former life all 
things were wrapped in God and in the holy Scriptures ; 
here it became inevitable to pour himself out in a great 
crowd of affairs which depended on his office and its 
immediate business. It required of him to leave frequently 
his retirement. He had to frequent streets and squares. 
He strove to keep such custody of his eyes that by them 
could be seen where those of the soul were placed. This 
holy man was well aware how easily a man goes out of 
himself if he neglects to guard these windows ; how difficult 
it is to withdraw within, and how ready danger is at hand ; 
how common it is that if the soul goes out by them, on 
its return death has meanwhile entered in by these very 
same windows. Under this vigilant care the streets of 
Rome, crowded as they were with people, were a desert 
to Jerome. The noise of the crowds and of the market- 
place never interrupted his prayer and his meditation, 
because from the continual abstraction of the senses the 


practice of withdrawing his spirit to the interior had 
effected in his ears the habit of not hearing, nor did he 
hear anything but what was of importance to the soul. 
And in truth, if the ears of the evil-minded prove so deaf 
to divine things that, as Isaias says, and St. Paul and even 
the Divine Master Himself declare, that hearing they do 
not hear, why cannot the ears of the saints do as much ? 
For all human affairs they are deaf; and truly was Jerome 
deaf to the tumult of the world. As to what appertained 
to the good of the neighbour, the fulfilment of his duties, 
attendance on the poor, to favour those in need, to be the 
refuge of the afflicted — for all these things his senses were 
indeed very wide awake. 

Such was the life of Jerome in Rome, and as such it 
became the admiration of all men. While in proportion 
as he withdrew his own eyes from men, so did he draw 
upon himself the eyes of all. Men desired to converse 
with him, some, indeed, with the object of leading better 
lives, others in order to improve in their studies, and 
others again from curiosity, or to find out what was within, or 
for no better reason than to follow the stream of the people 
and be thought of some importance, by reason of their 
communicating with a man universally held as a saint and 
of great learning. There are many of these in the world, 
who treat with the servants of God and with men of letters 
rather for outward ostentation, for neither do they improve 
in customs, nor in science do they advance a step, satisfied 
with being called " friends of a saint " and of one " who 
knows all that is of the very best." No doubt but that 
such as these imagine that Heaven, or the House of 
Wisdom, is like to the banquets of the world where the 
principal guest is at liberty to bring in a friend, and who 
enters under his wing. But they are deceived ; for unless 
he comes in a wedding garment (I mean the garb of 


penitence), and should labour by the sweat of his brow 
day and night, he will not be allowed to cross the threshold 
of his door and enter in. And if by chance he should 
come in mixed up in the crowd, the master of the banquet 
will walk in, and, on finding one there without a wedding 
garment, he will order him to be turned out into the 
exterior darkness, for outside all is shadow and death. 
Let no one depend solely upon saying, " 1 have a great devo- 
tion to St. Jerome and to St. Peter, if they do not imitate the 
tears and penance of Peter and of Jerome" nor indeed have 
these any other friends. Neither let it be said that in 
Rome all were friends, who approached our saint, as will 
be seen farther on. Many approached our Redeemer, 
and many indeed followed after Him, and even constrained 
Him in the crowds and concerns of men. Some followed 
in order to listen to Him, wishing to behold a brighter 
light, and thus be enabled to quit their ignorance, others 
to be healed of their maladies ; others, again, in order to 
calumniate His deeds, full of envy like the Pharisees; and 
some, again, for curiosity, to see miracles, listen to dis- 
courses, hear and see curious things, and enjoy all marvels. 
The same occurred to Jerome in Rome, and each of 
these types were there, and all who listened to his 
marvellous doctrines and conversation later on produced 
their respective fruits from the seeds he had sown, as 
happened to those who followed Christ. It was a great 
labour for our saint to attend to so many different 
persons and business ; he felt greatly concerned to find 
himself deprived of his sacred exercises. He remedied 
this damage with the quickness and promptitude of his 
genius, despatching with resolution and brevity the most 
difficult cases, and by curtailing his sleep at night, and by 
the silence and quietude of the hour replacing the losses 
of the. day ; he spent the time in prayer and in the perusal 


of holy books, learning there what he was to act after- 
wards ; for such as are in public offices bind themselves to 
this, when they venture to undertake them — to watch while 
they sleep over those who are under their care. A great 
labour, indeed, is this were it not responded to by a great 
reward. It would be a thing out of all reason to yearn for 
honours here, and in the life to come more glory with equal 
or less labour. This was not taught us by Him whom St. 
Peter calls Prince of Pastors, nor will it be judged thus 
by the code which He left signed by His example. He 
preached and healed by day, and by night He watched in 
prayer, and in prayer to God beseeching His Father to 
give us what He had resolved to do for His glory and our 
advantage. This was the plan and the method of the 
life of the cardinal priest, the favourite of Damasus, and 
this also must be the lives of the favourites of kings, 
under the strict obligation they have of counselling what 
they see to be requisite, even at the risk of losing the 
favour of their intimacy, unless they esteem that of God 
of smaller account. 

Amid the multitude who followed our saint were 
many, indeed the greater number, of the matrons of the 
nobility of Rome, similarly as in Judaea Christ was followed 
by the daughters of Jerusalem — apostolic women who left 
Him not, but followed Him even to the sepulchre. These 
noble women were, apart from their nobility, worthy of 
being admitted (despite that at first a persistent war was 
waged by the strict monk, until they eventually conquered) 
by reason of their great sanctity, zeal for virtue, desire of 
knowledge, yearning to quit the world to undertake great 
things for Christ, true descendants of those ancient matrons 
who were so justly celebrated, yet more so than they, for they 
effected greater deeds, since their aims were different and 
higher. Among them the most noteworthy were Marcella, 


Melania, Asella, Albina, Marcelina, and above them all the 
most saintly matron Paula, widow of Toxotius Patricius, 
the mother of Blesilla and of the pious virgin Eustochium. 
We can well declare that in all truth the Church gained 
very considerably by this holy friendship, because these 
ladies were the occasion for many works and treatises 
made by the great doctor. These holy matrons, by their 
importunate pleadings, awakened in him desires for new 
labours ; he condescended to their just desires, because 
from his conversation they became so enkindled with the 
love of God, and for the sacred Scriptures that their con- 
versation had no other topic, nor did they cease from 
asking him questions and suggesting doubts, seeking for 
declaration, urging him to compose treatises and to write 
epistles, and to such an extent that the best which the 
great doctor has left us was done at the petition and prayer 
of these saintly women. What could there be seemingly 
in the Church farther removed from seeking for erudition 
and doctrine, variety of languages, expositions of recondite 
writings, translations of Hebrew and Greek, than women, 
and, moreover, Roman women, matrons occupied in the 
government of their states, the ruling of their homes, 
domestics, and a thousand other details following upon 
each of the above duties. They certainly were not assisted 
by the knowledge of other discipline, which generally 
induces a thirst for passing on to higher things, nor the 
emulation of others who ran before or together with 
them, nor the object of attaining profit and honours, nor 
had they other roots or principles such as are needed for 
entering on labour in so wide a field as the sacred Scrip- 
tures would reveal. Despoiled of all these, in order that 
it be seen that this was no human affair, God placed in 
their souls so vivid a desire for all this, that I feel con- 
strained to say that, were it not for them, Jerome would 


not be the great personage the Church celebrates to-day, 
at least not so great, for they made him, by their plead- 
ings and with their holy importunities, to open the depths 
of his heart, drawing out from thence what he was enjoying 
in solitude to the signal loss of the Church. And to the 
great shame of many of the men of those times let it be 
said, that they not only did not imitate the diligence and 
study of these women, but they endeavoured to prevent 
them, and even raised scandal. And in these our times 
men are not less blameworthy, since they exhibit small 
desire and yearning to understand the secrets of the 
sacred writings, for we do not only take no heed to call 
forth by our questions and petitions those men to whom 
God has communicated these secrets, but we even gnash 
our teeth with wrath against the lives, occupations, genius, 
and labours of those who are engaged in doing so, if we 
see that they advance or acquire a great name. And what 
is above all things most reprehensible is, that we will not 
turn our attention to the writings of the holy doctors, but 
we prefer to peruse the discourses of men truly ignorant 
of the sacred Scriptures and what they are, and quote their 
pamphlets, and waste time, life, and money upon them, 
forgetful of St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and of St. Jerome, 
of whom they knew nothing more than if they had written 
their works in Low Arabic. But let us leave them in 
their ignorance, for we could never disillusion them. I 
will solely give them a sad prophecy, viz., that by pur- 
suing this path they will neither amend their lives nor 
do any good to their neighbour, nor up to their last day 
will they become more learned or wiser than they were 
at first. 

Among other exercises and particular spiritual practices 
of the love of God which Jerome held with these matrons, 
the principal one was to expound in the sacred books, the 


psalms, and epistles, and other parts. During these dis- 
courses it became necessary for him to tell them for the 
easier comprehension of the passages, " Thus is it declared 
in the Greek text." " This, again, is as it is stated in the 
Hebrew, and so on." " This is wanting from the original, 
and this other is added, or amended, or obscure." On 
account of the translation of the Septuagint being what 
they perused, came the desire of these heroic women to 
know both the Greek and the Hebrew languages, for it 
appeared to them that the knowledge of these would be 
of great advantage for fully comprehending the sacred 
Scriptures. Some of these accordingly took up with great 
diligence the study of both Greek and Hebrew until they 
came to know them little less well than their saintly 
master. Among the books which Jerome read to them 
with great advantage was the Ecclesiastes of Solomon, as 
he states in an epistle x to Paula and Eustochium, her 
daughter. The wise doctor had selected with great 
prudence this book for their instruction, because the first 
thing to be instilled into the minds of persons of social 
worth, and position, and influence in the world is to make 
them understand of what small value the whole world is, 
and what small profit it is to us in time of need. 

This, indeed, is the principal subject and aim of that 
book of Ecclesiastes ; it came very apposite to those 
Roman matrons who were of so high a lineage and 
wealthy, so that convinced by the reasonings of the 
wise king who had tried all things to satiety, from his 
disillusion they also should learn disillusion, and from his 
penitence they likewise should learn their own, and be 
enabled to strike the balance of the losses and gains of 
this miserable business of earth, of the deceitful cupidity, 
and low sensuality, which give a result and computation 

1 Epist. 116. 

2 A 


in a wide vanity, the reaping a harvest of a great 
number of vanities. It would show them how much had 
•been spent, little of which had been received, the 
irremediable results which would follow unless all things 
were left. He would lead them to understand what 
madness and folly it is to occupy the soul, to awaken 
thought, afflict the spirit, and consume life (for this is waste) 
in order to obtain riches, pleasures, tastes, property and 
servants, instead of considering these things attentively. 
What do these things place in the soul ? What recom- 
pense does a man derive from this ? What remains, or 
what accrues to him ? Nothing remains to him ; he finds 
nothing within, because on reaching the end of life he finds 
himself despoiled of them all, and these very things have 
been the actual causes of his course of life coming so 
quickly to an end. These great truths are all summed up 
in a vanity of infinite vanities, no receipts and a great 
outlay. This was the opening lesson which St. Jerome 
read to his saintly pupils, in order, in the first place, to 
open their eyes, and by means of a vivid persuasion draw 
out of their hearts the deep-set roots of the glory of this 
world, because until this be effected in the spiritual life 
there is nothing done, although they should have laboured 
for a thousand years. The effect of all this soon became 
visible in Blesilla and the great fruit of the holy lesson, 
because her disillusion and her life ended simultaneously. 
Blesilla was very beautiful and wealthy, had just been 
married, and was in her twentieth year ; nevertheless she 
was never absent from the lesson, and when ended, be- 
sought the master to write down his instruction in order 
that during his absence she should have the lesson always 
before her eyes. Yet before this was effected our Lord 
read it to her by the experience of trials. He took first 
her husband from her, after only seven months of wedded 


life. This loss was followed by obstinate fevers which 
brought her down to the point of death ; she was en- 
wrapped in the fire of this fever, and as in a crucible 
the fine gold of her soul was purified. Then during that 
crisis, comparing her own experience with the lesson given 
in Ecclesiastes, she beheld all things in the light of the 
wise man, and on rising from her sick bed she totally 
altered her life ; she changed her apparel and turned the 
stateliness of her house and its arrangements from a 
superb palace into an humble monastery. She embraced 
the Cross of Christ, treading under foot all the glory of 
the world, and went forth to lead the life of a nun ; she so 
courageously entered the state of penance that her new 
spouse Christ, satisfied with her love and the sorrow He 
perceived in her for not having always been His, that He 
was minded to take her to enjoy His kingdom. 

Two letters did the saintly doctor write in divine 
strains in regard to this episode. I feel I would be doing 
wrong were I not to introduce here some portions of 
them, for two reasons — first, in order to verify what has 
been said, lest some might think that I have imagined all 
this, the conversation and communion between Jerome 
and these saintly women ; and secondly, to reveal his 
sanctity and theirs. And that we should blush to see 
ourselves fit for so little and so womanish, being men, and 
they being women, yet with such heroic masculine powers. 
Writing to Marcella about the fever of Blesilla, and of 
the change in her manner of life, St. Jerome says as 
follows : — " Abraham was tempted in his son, and was 
found faithful. Joseph was sold in Egypt, so that in good 
time he should maintain his father and his brethren. 
Ezechiel was terrified at his approaching death, and wept 
bitter tears, and a further term of life was given of fifteen 
years. Peter the Apostle was overcome in the Passion of 


our Lord, and after weeping sorrow-stricken at his fall, he 
heard from the mouth of the Divine One, Feed my lambs. 
Paul, the robber-wolf, and Benjamin, the little one, in 
swoon and ecstasy were blinded so that they should see, 
and full of a sudden terror and amazement, call "Lord" to 
Him whom but a short time before they had persecuted as 
a human enemy. Thus now, my Marcella, do we see our 
Blesilla burning for thirty days in a fierce fever, so that 
she should learn how to cast out from her the delights of a 
body which in a brief space of time will be riddled and 
consumed by worms. To her came the Lord Jesus to lay 
His hand upon her, 1 and she arose sound and well, full 
ready to serve Him. There was about her a species of 
languor and slothfulness, and being held by the bands of 
wealth, she lay in the sepulchre of the world ; but Jesus 
was grieved ; He groaned in the spirit and troubled Him- 
self and with a loud voice cried out, Blesilla ! Come 
forth ! 2 At that strong cry she came to and arose. She 
walked on her feet, and at length seated herself at the 
table to eat with the Lord. Let the Jews threaten, 
mutiny, conjure, attempt to put to death the One who 
arose from the dead : only the Apostles rejoice. Well 
does she know that she owes her life to the One, who 
restored it to her, when she had lost it, and she also knows 
how to embrace those feet of His whom she had once 
feared for His rigorous justice. The body was almost bereft 
of soul, her limbs were lifeless, death had already grasped 
her in his arms ! I ask now, Where are the remedies of 
her relatives ? Where those words more empty than the 
smoke itself? She owes you nothing, oh ungrateful rela- 
tives ! She who, already dead to the world, has arisen for 
Christ ! Let him who has the sentiments of a Christian 
rejoice at the change, since he who is wrathful evidently 

1 Luke iv. 40. 2 John ii. 43. 


manifests how little he has of the Christian faith. The 
widow, who finds herself freed from the bonds of matri- 
mony, has no need of anything else but to persevere in her 
state. And if any one should take scandal at the dress, 
sad, black, and rough, let him also take scandal at St. 
John, than whom, among those born of women, no greater 
prophet has arisen, and he is called angel ; his destiny 
so lofty and great that he baptized the Lord God Himself, 
nevertheless he was arrayed in the rough garment of hair 
bound at the waist by a coarse rope. Does the gross and 
common food displease you ? What could there be more 
rough than locusts ? " 

To this the saint adds some passages against the 
fashions of the day, the postures and the finery which 
was in use at that time, not only among ladies and 
maidens, but among the widows, who, as St. Paul ex- 
presses it, did not merit the title of widows ; and he then 
adds : " This one widow used formerly to spend much 
time in beautifying herself. Her days were spent in 
demanding of her mirror whether anything was amiss or 
wanting : now with holy confidence she says — All of us 
unveiled and with a clear sight view ourselves in the 
mirror of the faith and of the glory of the Lord. Before 
this looking-glass we shall arrange and dress ourselves 
conformably with His image and likeness, passing from 
one degree of light into another like to the Spirit of the 
Lord." Formerly her maids were daily occupied for long 
hours in combing her hair, braiding, curling, and making 
crowns or high designs with it ; but now, despised and 
disarranged, she is satisfied if her head be but covered. 
In other days the very feathers of her bed seemed hard to 
her, and her elegantly-furnished drawing-room she could 
scarce abide ; but now she is the first to rise to prayer, 
she intones the Alleluia before any one else in a sweet 


and tender voice, and is the first to commence the divine 
praises. She bends her bare knees on the bare ground, 
and by continual tears she bathes that countenance which 
formerly she spoiled with cosmetics ! " Many other passages 
of this kind does he proceed recounting, to depict to us 
the change in Blesilla. These, however, suffice to mani- 
fest the powerful influence which the doctrines of the 
saint had exerted, the fruits of his lessons, the profit of 
his instructions, and the effects of his conversation in the 
minds of people so daintily brought up, and so patrician, 
surrounded by all that was most precious and esteemed by 
Roman luxury ; how powerful his words and example had 
been. In those days that city was at the height of its 
luxury ; its senators and matrons were most wealthy ; they 
possessed large estates and wide lands ; they were much 
given up to comforts and the delights of life ; and, as 
we have said, these matrons and maidens were of the 
chiefest and highest of the aristocracy. Over all these 
did Jerome triumph with his doctrines, and by his dis- 
courses prevailed upon them to fling all the pleasures and 
joys of the world to the ground. 

As regards the exercises of the sacred Scriptures, we 
can gather from the words he addressed to the mother of 
Blesilla, St. Paula, 1 what these exercises were, in an 
epistle wherein he tries to console her for her daughter's 
death : " Who can with tearless eyes call to mind a pious 
woman of only twenty who with such burning faith raised 
the Standard of the Cross ? One would say she did not 
weep for her dead husband but for her maidenhood. Who 
can recall without emotion the force of her reasoning, the 
purity of her speech, the tenacity of her memory, and the 
acuteness of her genius ? If you heard her speak Greek, 
you would declare that there could not have remained 

1 Epist. 25. 


time for her to learn Latin. If she reverted to the mother 
tongue of Rome, there was no accent of a foreign tongue 
in her speech. What is a greater marvel (similarly to 
Origen, for which he became so widely admired in Greece), 
in a few days — I do not mean months, but days — she over- 
came in such a way the difficulties of the Hebrew tongue, 
that in the recital and singing of the Psalms she competed 
with her mother. Blesilla had become so worn and weak 
and ill that she could hardly walk without assistance ; 
nevertheless, in her hands were ever the prophets or the 
gospels, her eyes ever streaming with tears. Sobs pre- 
vented her words, yet her tender heart did not allow her 
parched tongue to rest. When her saintly form was in 
burning fever, and her rough bed surrounded by her 
relatives, these were her last words : Beseech the Lord 
Jesus Christ to pardon me, because I was unable to fulfil what 
I had desired to do. You are safe, Blesilla ; I am confident 
that from thence you approve the truth which here we are 

From all this is clearly seen how brilliantly the exer- 
cises of letters and virtues were followed, and what work 
the words and example of this father was effecting ; how 
fervently must his words have come forth from his heart, 
what stability they carried with them since they effected 
such havoc among the worldly luxury of the most cultured 
people of the world. I feel I cannot keep silence, nor is it 
just that a further paragraph of this letter should be omitted, 
because it is of great importance, not alone as a confirma- 
tion of what has been said, but for the comfort and relief 
of souls afflicted by the loss of children, and other trials. 
Thus does he speak of Paula : "I cannot utter what I 
wish to say without sighing. When in the midst of the 
funeral ceremonies you swooned away and were taken 
home almost without life in you, the people murmured, 


and from between their teeth they hissed out these words : 
Is it not what we have so often said? It is dreadful for 
her to witness the death of her daughter from sheer fasting, 
and would to God, that if not from her first marriage, at 
least from her second nuptials she should have left her a 
grandchild. Until when is this hapless class of monks to 
be permitted ? Why do we not stone them ? Why not 
fling them into the river ? They have deceived the poor 
mother ; for now we clearly perceive that the thought of 
becoming a nun had never entered her mind, since we see 
her weeping with greater grief the death of her children 
than ever any Gentile wept. How greatly would Satan's 
delight be now that he is trying to gain your soul by 
setting before your eyes the causes for a just grief, while 
he places before you the image of your dead triumphant 
daughter, to assume to overcome the mother, and when he 
finds her alone to encounter the sister." 

Then farther on he says : " How many torments do 
you deem you are causing our Blesilla, on seeing that 
Christ is thus treated by you ? Methinks I hear her, and 
that from thence she is crying out to you : ' O mother, if 
at any time you felt love for me ; if I suckled at your 
breast ; if from you I learned holy warnings, I pray you do 
not envy my glory, do not act in such a way that for ever 
we should remain apart. Do you perchance think that I 
am alone ? Let me tell you that in your place I have as 
my mother, Mary, the mother of the Lord. Many do I 
see here, whom I had never known. Oh ! what better 
company this is ! I have here also Anna, she who in 
former times prophesied in the Gospel, and so that you 
may further rejoice, be it known to you that I obtained in 
my three years' widowhood what she gained after long years 
of trials — one equal palm of chastity did we receive. You 
feel great compassion for me because I left the world ; yet 


I, on my part, lament your hapless condition, since you 
are still bound in the sad prison-house of the world, yet 
fighting in the doubtful combat, at one time cast down to 
the very depth by ire, now by avarice, at other times by 
pleasures, and a perfect squadron of furious vices. If in 
truth you wish to be my mother, endeavour to please 
Christ, because I do not acknowledge any one as such 
who displeases my Lord. All these things is she saying 
and others which I keep silent about, and she is praying 
for you to our Lord, and for me also, as I trust to her soul 
to obtain the pardon of my sins, because I admonished her 
and persuaded her, and because I received andi brought 
upon myself at much cost that she should be saved the 
anger of all her relatives. Therefore, so long as the soul 
rules this body of mine, so long as the course of my life 
should last, I promise to you, testify and vow, that never 
shall my tongue cease to speak of her ; to her I dedicate 
my labours ; for her shall my genius be exercised, and 
there will be no undertaking in which Blesilla shall not 
be heard." And he concludes with other touching reasons 
in order to console the mother for the loss of so beloved a 

And in the course of this narrative we have seen in 
passing, the spirit of the children of the world, how forgetful 
they are of that which is eternal, how common it has been 
always to show disfavour to the good, to persecute it, con- 
demn and blaspheme it. A great consolation is this to those 
who are journeying with some degree of earnestness, and 
who endeavour to take others on with them. There is 
nothing which renders the enemy of souls more furious 
than this. His aim has always been to discredit virtue, to 
make her the subject of suspicion, to prognosticate evils of 
her, so that even such as are circumspect should be scandal- 
ised. He would wish to persuade the world that what is to 


the purpose is to follow a smooth path, and what the disciples 
of his school call a plain way is to eat and drink, to laugh, 
play, and even swear ; never to withdraw oneself for a 
moment to think of the wretchedness of one's past life, to 
form purposes of amendment for what remains of it, and 
never ponder over what they owe to God, nor upon what 
He has done for them, all this being dangerous and 
suspicious. Fasting they call hypocrisy ; hair-shirts, folly ; 
silence, bestiality ; retirement, dangerous ; in a word, all 
that is outside their rules, and hints at the contempt of the 
world, and of penance, is an invention or insanity ; while 
all that corresponds to the wide road which Christ has 
declared leads to perdition is a plain life, and so smooth 
that men proceed from vice to vice, from sin to sin, 
ascending from one to the other, as they say, by a steady 
road to hell. 

What they said of St. Jerome, that very same do they 
say now, because the enemy which we always carry 
on our shoulders is ever the same, and the one which 
favours him outside and urges him on, is one who is 
never weary. 


Continuation of the Life and Labours of St. Jerome in 
Rome. Information is afforded respecting some Works 
he composed. 

From the foregone discourses glimpses of the life which 
our glorious father led have been revealed, the works and 
the labours he pursued, and brought to bear in saintly 
souls, who were so well disposed for receiving the seed of 
highest doctrine from his lips, as was quickly perceived by 
the great fruits which they produced in the change of 
life, and in some by a blessed death. I feel confident that 
Jerome was the occasion of the signal change effected in 
the noble Matron, Melania, who was one of the wealthiest 
and noblest ladies in Rome. She left all things and 
departed to Jerusalem to lead a conventual life. Previous 
to the coming of the holy doctor to Rome, this custom of 
matrons becoming nuns, or of going to holy lands, 
Jerusalem, or Bethlehem, had never been heard of or 
comprehended ; but after his arrival nought was heard 
but these things. So greatly can good communications 
influence people. This great man by his eloquence 
wielded a great power, by his words and actions 
harmonising with each other. In the epistle which has 
been under discussion, 1 among other reasons which he 

1 Epist. xxv. cap. 3. 


gives Paula for restraining her grief for her lost daughter 
is the example of Melania. " I do not wish," he says, " to 
repeat old fables. I wish to consider present things. 
The holy Matron, Melania, truly noble among the 
Christians of our times, -while yet her husband had 
scarcely been laid in his grave, lost two of her children. 
I am going to state a thing which seems almost impossible 
to believe, but Christ is witness of the truth. Who would not 
have thought that then this woman would have given way 
to a terrible fit of grief, or perhaps even attempted her 
own life ? Yet she never shed a tear ; she remained there 
immovable, then she went and cast herself at the feet of 
Christ crucified, and embracing them, with a smile on 
her countenance, said : " Lord, now indeed I will serve Thee 
with a fuller heart and with greater freedom, since Thou 
hast been pleased to deliver me from so great a charge." 
And leaving her possessions, goods, and wealth to her 
last child, and at the commencement of the winter, she 
took ship to Jerusalem. We might say of St. Jerome in 
those times what the Pope Urban said of St. Cecilia: 
" Lord, Thy servant Jerome, like a wise, solicituous bee, 
serves Thee, bringing to the hive of Thy holy land the 
flowers of the gardens of Rome." He performed many 
other services for the Church whilst still dwelling in this 
city. Through the pleadings of Fabiola he wrote the two 
celebrated treatises, " on the forty-two mansions," which 
the children of Israel made, from the time they passed the 
Red Sea, coming out of Egypt, until they reached the 
shores of the Jordan, and entered into the promised land. 
He expounded these in the spiritual sense, comparing 
the text and showing them to be an express figure of 
the road we ourselves journey in this captivity of the 
world and of sin, to the life and promised liberty, after 
passing the sea of the red baptism in the blood of Christ, 


wherein our enemies are left drowned, and we are delivered 
on the shore. This one work alone of St. Jerome would 
have sufficed to render him immortal and well worthy of 
the title of " Doctor of the Church." 

The other treatise was an epistle, 1 wherein he declares 
the secret meanings of the vesture and ornaments of the 
high priest in the old law. At the commencement he 
reveals the sacraments and mysteries of many of those 
sacrifices, ceremonies, laws, and rites ; then he comes to 
the purpose, drawing much light of doctrine from those 
early shadows for succeeding ages. Here he also wrote 
that renowned epistle to the Virgin Eustochium on the 
" Guarding of Virginity," since she was the one who 
among the daughters of Paula had taken the vow of 
virginity, and became the constant companion of the life 
and pilgrimages of her saintly mother. This epistle was 
very much discussed and even murmured at. Jerome in it 
reprehends all the corrupted portions of the Church and 
the classes of vices which may enter into the lives of 
persons bearing the title of "Servants of Jesus Christ" 
persons living in retirement, professors of sanctity on the 
outside, the life led within being very different, their 
consciences being very wide and unwholesome. This 
epistle offended the clergy, the monks, the affectedly 
pious women, widows, and maidens, to whom all these 
titles were inappropriate. I mean such as those who 
dwelt in Rome ; and quickly this resentment extended 
throughout Italy and France, as may be seen from the 
defence made of it by Sulpicius Severus. 2 

Without doubt St. Jerome in this work reveals and 
brings forward the secret sores, and he who is touched 
with the evil, on finding that his wounds are being 

1 Epist. cxxviii. 
2 Severus Sulpicius, dialog, primo, De virtutibus monachor. Oriental. 


approached, cannot dissemble the pain and cries out. St. 
Jerome will not endure hypocrisy ; he deeply feels the 
honour of Christ and of His Church ; he reckons it a great 
wickedness to bear the name of priest and of monk, and 
yet in the interior to be what cannot be mentioned without 
the blush of shame. In all his letters and treatises it is 
remarkable how constantly and generally he enjoins reading 
and prayer. It is impossible without these two that the 
soul should grow in virtues, any more than that the crops of 
the fields should thrive without rain, and in the gardens the 
flowers should grow without watering them. About that 
time he also wrote other epistles and treatises. To Marcella 
he sent, among others, a very important epistle, in which he 
gives the ten divine names more frequently found in the 
Hebrew lessons ; another one on such words in the 
Hebrew and the Greek as remained untranslated, such as 
Allelu-ia, Amen, Maranatha, Diapsalma. About this 
time there arose a disciple of the famous Arian Auxentius, 
called Elvidius or Helvidius, a man as bold as he was 
ignorant. He attempted to obscure the virginal purity 
of the mother of Jesus Christ. I do not wish to further 
declare the foulness of his error. He wrote a book and 
published it, and despite that he was a man of no erudition 
or doctrine he found men to read and give credit to it. 
From this there grew a sect, or followers, who were called 
Helvidians and Antidicomarianites, I mean to say, sectaries 
and heretics, against the virginity of Mary. And, foras- 
much as many pious men saw with dismay that this 
shameful error would cause havoc among the weak, they 
all turned to Jerome, as though they sought to indicate 
that to him appertained the defence of the case. And 
they judged rightly, because, if in all the discourses and 
colloquies he ever had Bethlehem on his lips, the crib, and 
the holy land, the cave where the holiest virgin was 


delivered, and wherein was laid on the straw the Bread 
which satisfies the world, and was ever treating upon these 
loved things, his desires being ever to implant them in the 
hearts of each one, it was just that he should not permit a 
single spot to blemish the fair name of a maid so pure. As 
men perceived that Jerome was silent, they decided to call 
him forth. They besought him with much feeling to 
reply to the effrontery of this heretic. And he did so. 
The saint took up his pen, and with wisdom and erudition 
quite his own, he wrote the book De perpetua virginitate, 
which is found among his works, against Helvidius, and the 
error was destroyed at once. At the beginning of the 
book St. Jerome excuses himself for his delay and silence, 
saying that, if he had hesitated answering the book of 
Helvidius, it was not on account of any difficulty of the 
matter, but because by replying, in defence of a truth so 
well established and manifest, to a rude man (who scarcely 
knew grammar), it would be to do him too great an 
honour, but he would be very well pleased to answer him, 
in order to conquer him. Jerome wrote this when in 
Rome, as he himself says in the epistle to the Galatians. 
" I remember," he says, " that being in Rome, moved by 
the pleadings of many brethren, I wrote a book on the 
perpetual virginity of the holy mother of the Lord." In 
this book, not only did he convince the heretic as regards 
the chief intention of the blessed virgin, but he even 
manifests it to be certain that her holy spouse, St. Joseph, 
was also a virgin. 1 

At the petition of the holy Pontiff, Damasus, Jerome 
performed many other useful things in Rome on behalf of 
the Church. He expounded and declared 2 what the 
meaning was of that oft-repeated word Hosiagna, or, as 
though corrupting the word, we say Osanna or Hosanna. 

1 Lib. De perpet. virgin, cap. ix. 2 Epist. cxlv. 


And availing himself of this occasion, while seeking the 
root from the Hebrew source, as he says, he expounds 
nearly the whole of Psalm cxvii., whence ithe verse is 
taken which the evangelists quote. He also expounded to 
him the parable of the prodigal son 1 and waster, and of 
the thrifty and diligent man, in the spiritual sense. At 
the petition of the same Pontiff, he made the translation 
of the Homilies of Origen on the Canticles, and forasmuch 
as the prologue of that work was the occasion of the 
dissensions which arose between him and Rufinus, and 
from these this individual drew the motive for his 
intemperate anger, it will be as well that we should here 
say something on this affair, and understand his small 
reason, or great malice for doing so. 

He says as follows : " Although Origen in some works 
triumphed over others, yet in this one on the Canticles he 
surpassed himself, for after having written ten volumes, 
which contain nearly 20,000 verses, he expounds first 
the Septuagint, then Aquila, Symmachus, and Theo- 
dotian, and, furthermore, in the fifth edition (which it 
is said was found on the shores of Actium), with such 
excellency and clearness that it appears he verified in 
himself what is said, ' The king hath brought me into his 
storeroom.' 2 But putting aside, however, that work which 
demands infinite space, great labour, and expenditure, to 
translate so many things into Latin, these two other 
treatises, which he composed for the little ones, who have 
need of milk, in simple diction, I have wished to translate, 
preserving rather fidelity than ornate writing, offering you 
in them not the height of the meaning, but something to 
win for you a taste for them. From this you may judge 
of what esteem those large ones be, since these that are 
small contain so much." 

1 Epist. cxlvi. 2 Canticles, I, 3. 


From these just and due praises of Origen occasion was 
taken by Rufinus to declare our saint to be an Origenist. 
And as to him it appeared that Origenist and heretic were 
not far from being synonyms, he had no patience to be 
called such. From this arose a storm. 

St. Jerome also wrote in Rome an exposition of the 
Hebrew alphabet to Paula Urbica, to which I have already 
drawn attention, and, as I also said, he follows in this 
Eusebius of Casarea. It was singular this desire of women, 
who asked the saintly doctor about things which I marvel 
they had information of and taste for. I do not think 
that ever before or after has been witnessed in the 
Church up to the present time so novel a case of so 
many matrons being gathered together, so saintly and 
so tender, desirous of understanding the sacred writings 
and the secrets contained in them. 

Yet at this juncture methinks that some malicious 
spirit secretly judged proper to cast aspersions for this 
reason on the saintly man by saying that many were the 
treatises and epistles and commentaries which he wrote 
for women, and few, comparatively, that he addresses to, 
and writes for men. That lofty things of such gravity 
and recondite, as are the mysteries of the holy Scriptures, 
should not be communicated to them. That it implied too 
much familiarity and is worthy of remark, that he should 
teach Greek and Hebrew to them, a thing we have no 
proof he did, but to only a few men, and that it seems 
impossible there should be so few wishing to be taught 
and to learn them, and that he was better pleased to teach 
women. These charges are not new, nor to murmur at 
either, because malice is very old, and the same is both 
inherited and acquired. In those days all this was 
whispered into the ears of the saint. 

St. Jerome felt the necessity of affording some satisfac- 

2 B 


tion to those who thus murmured. And they received 
the reply in an epistle which he addressed to the virgin 
Principia when sending to her the exposition of Psalm 
xliv. And whereas he replied for himself, we ourselves 
are relieved of that duty. Let us hear his own answer, 
and receive our own share of his shafts. In the com- 
mencement of his Epistle 1 he says as follows : " I am 
well aware, Principia, my daughter in the Lord, that I am 
greatly reprehended because I address women, and that I 
prefer the weaker sex to men, taking more notice of 
the women than of men. I have need, in the first place, 
to answer those who murmur against me, then I will 
proceed to treat upon what you ask me. Did men occupy 
themselves with the sacred Scriptures and demand as 
many questions as women do, I would not speak with 
women. If Barak 2 had willed to go to battle, Deborah 
would not have triumphed over the conquered enemies. 
They enclose Jeremias in a prison, and because the 
condemned town would not receive the man, who had 
come to prophesy to them, God sent them the woman, 
Holda. 3 The priests and the Pharisees crucified the Son 
of God, and Mary Magdalen was the one who wept by 
the Cross, who prepared the ointments, who sought Him 
at the sepulchre, asking of the gardener and recognising 
in Him her Lord. It is she who runs with the news to 
the Apostles ; tells them that He is risen : if they doubt, 
she herself has perfect confidence." 

In this way he continues proving and confirming his 
words by a number of other passages in Scripture, with 
incisive allusions and examples, and concludes his reason- 
ings by saying: "Christ speaks to the Samaritan woman 
at the well, better satisfied in His thirst for souls with the 
faith of the believer than with the food which the 

1 Epist. 140. 2 Judges iv. 3 Hierome 36, 4 Reg. 22. 


disciples had purchased for Him. Apollo, an apostolic 
man and most learned in the law, 'one mighty in the 
Scriptures,' is taught by Aquila and Priscilla, and they 
expound to him the ways of the Lord. 1 Hence, if it be 
not an ancient thing, nor undue in an apostle to allow 
himself to be taught by women, why should it not be 
permissible in me, after having taught many men, to teach 
women also ? " 

The same strain does he follow in the prologue to 
Sophonias, and says : " Before I comment on Sophonias, 
who is the ninth among the twelve prophets, it becomes 
imperative for me to reply to those who judge me worthy 
of scorn, because, putting aside the men, I write to 
women, and to you especially, O Paula and Eustochium ! 
And did they but know that, when men kept silent, Holda 
and Deborah, both judge and prophetess, prophesied and 
overcame the enemies of Israel when Barak was cowardly ; 
that Judith and Esther, as figures of the Church, cut the 
heads off their enemies, and delivered Israel from peril, 
they would not lash thus my back. I speak not of 
Anna, Elizabeth, and other holy women, who are cast into 
the shade by the greater resplendency of Mary, as the 
stars pale before the greater light of the sun. Let us 
approach the Gentile women, in order that in the age 
of philosophers they should learn that difference of body 
is not what is sought for, but of soul. Plato in his Dialogues 
introduces Aspasia. Sappho is found to have collaborated 
with Pindar, and in Alcaeus we see Themista, who philoso- 
phises with the most grave men of Greece, and Cornelia, of 
the family of the Gracchi and your own, whom the whole 
of Rome praises and celebrates. Carneades, a learned 
philosopher and rhetorician of great elegance, who moved 
all Greece to applause, did not disdain to dispute on a 

1 Acts xviii. 


special case with only one matron. Why speak of 
Portia, daughter of Cato, wife of Brutus, whose courage is 
a good reason that we should not be astonished at that of 
her father and husband ? Greek and Roman history is 
full of all this, and even whole books. It suffices to me 
to say at the end of this prologue (since I wish to come 
to the work of expounding) that at the resurrection of our 
Lord He first appeared to the women, thus making them 
apostles of His apostles, in order that men should be 
humbled and ashamed of not seeking for what the women 
had already found. 

With these last words does our saint draw attention to 
the indifference and negligence of the men of his day, 
and well does he make known his desire of communicating 
these mysteries to his fellowmen, who might thereby 
teach other men in their turn ; but there were none to 
partake of that desire, and, what is more astonishing, is to 
see that no one seemed inclined to learn Hebrew or 
Greek or, as regards the study of the sacred Scriptures, to be 
a disciple, but only these saintly women, who delighted in 
knowing them, and for that object took trouble to learn these 
languages, and I believe that the saint himself felt great 
pleasure in this study, as he praises such as took this 
trouble, not only for the great fruit which he drew from 
it, on account of the great secrets which were revealed, 
but he even enjoyed the construction and beauty of the 

During the time that Jerome remained in Rome, 
which, as we shall see farther on, did not exceed three 
years, he sent for his brother Paulinian, who was very 
young, having been born at the time Jerome was in 
Syria. We know not if he sent for him on account of 
the death of his parents. The saint does not say it, 
although it is believed it was for that reason. On the 


arrival of the lad, he undertook his education. Jerome 
was to him brother, father, tutor, and master. He taught 
him grammar and Latin, I believe Greek also, the one 
being of use in learning the other, and our great doctor well 
knew how it ought to be taught. Paulinian soon mani- 
fested good qualities and talents, while the boon of having 
so good a master quickly developed his mind, as we shall 
see farther on, because, while still a very young man, 
St. Epiphanius ordained him priest on account of his 
virtues and letters. This dignity of priest was held 
in higher esteem then than at present, and demanded 
greater merits. Of this we shall treat more extensively 
in its proper place. 


St. Jerome is persecuted in Rome. False Testimonies raised 
against him. Quits Rome for the Holy Land. 

It is quite the usual thing in the world for saintly men 
to be persecuted. It has been, as it were, agreed 
between God and His servants on one part, and the devil 
and his own on the other part, that the latter should 
persecute the former ; that the good should suffer and 
be tortured, that the wicked should exercise upon them 
their malice, and that as long as they live in the world 
these should triumph, the others weep, and that after a 
short time all things be reversed. Let the wicked now 
raise up false testimonies, crushing them with affronts ; 
let them be cast into prisons, exiled, covered with miseries 
as by a mantle ; let them be loaded with all the misfortunes 
that can be devised, until they end this life by a sad death ; 
all, all will be in the end the fulfilment of the arrange- 
ment assented to very long ago between the ancient 
serpent and man : 1 " She shalt crush thy head, and thou shall 
lie in wait for her heel." There is no need to fill pages 
with examples. It suffices for my purpose to say that no 
one can meditate on the life of any saintly man without 
discovering something of this, and in many of them a great 
deal ; indeed this fact has come to be so widely acknow- 

1 Genesis iii. 15. 


ledged that we ourselves do not hold a saint to be so who 
does not pass through all this. I will only refer to what 
the Catholic Queen, Dona Isabel (of whose memory Spain 
rejoices), that when she witnessed the persecutions and 
false testimonies which were raised against the holy 
Archbishop of Granada, Fray Hernando de Talavera, of 
the Order of St. Jerome, the first archbishop nominated by 
her, she exclaimed : " This indeed is what was wanting to 
my father for him to be a saint / " 

The Queen indeed had always held him to be a saint, 
yet she had not seen him under trials ; she had judged his 
sanctity to be solid, and when she saw him tried she was 
confirmed and certified in her judgment. 

And in order that this should not be wanting to 
Jerome, and so that he should go through all this and 
even have something left to give others for their instruc- 
tion, it will be well to understand that the enemy would 
not treat Jerome more gently in Rome than he had done 
formerly in the desert. And as he himself expresses it, 
whithersoever he might go, and wherever he was placed, 
whether he changed places or not, he could not change his 
adversary. In return for the great labours he had gone 
through to adorn that city and serve the Church, he 
could only expect and receive what men usually give. 
How could the devil rest or mitigate his fury, when 
Jerome was waging against him such a warfare ? Many 
were there of the devil's band, who had become converted 
to a better life and joined the army of Christ on his 
account — some from the errors of idolatry to the faith ; 
others from a slumbering faith and evil ways to a living 
faith and to good morals, due to Jerome's discourses, 
counsels, admonitions, doctrine, and example, by which 
they came to hate vice, to love sanctity, and thus quit 
their blindness, put aside their pleasures, lead retired 


lives, penitential, monastic, and so forth, even such as 
were more delicately brought up. The adversary raged 
in his fury ; and he would not be what he is, did he not 
strive to take revenge for so much damage and make up for 
so many losses ; because one of two things was imperative 
— either Jerome and a great portion of the virtues and the 
advantages linked to souls should quit the city, or he (the 
evil one), with his great crowd of numberless and nameless 
vices, leave Rome, because Jerome, and the devil and his 
vices, despite the size of the city, could not remain there 
together. Such was the speed and the fervour with which 
the saint pursued and reprehended vice, that it became 
well-nigh insupportable. 

The whole city in heart was divided on this case. For, 
although outwardly the opposing parties did not dare to 
open their mouths, and agreed together in secret, both those 
against and in favour of him agreed in saying that God had 
brought that man for the remedy of the city, and that after 
the days of Pope Damasus it was a recognised and 
established opinion that he would be called to occupy the 
chair of Peter. Nevertheless, within their hearts they 
were very much separated. Such as had never earnestly 
sought to amend their lives, but were given up to their 
vices, were very much on the side of the devil, and they 
felt Jerome's influence as much as he did. 

They chafed and were hurt by the reprehensions of the 
saint, known and pointed at as wretched Christians, held 
in naught and almost denied speech by the good, who 
followed the mandate — that with such as these not to break 
bread with them. Among these marked ones were some 
bad priests, whose conversation and life the saint had well 
depicted in his epistle on Virginity, and whom he had 
reprehended in public with vivid words. These, together 
with the arch enemy, gave the warning note, and they 


commenced business ; at first and little by little they 
began to circulate with veiled words, uttered as though as 
a secret, a slight rumour, as bewailing and lamenting the 
fair fame of the holy man, in order to see how it would 
be received and believed : " What a pity should there 
be any truth in what is said in secret ! " " There are 
reports that this man's life is not altogether what it should 
be. We are grieved to the soul that it should be so ! " 
Furthermore, it was hinted that his wickedness was such 
that Jerome was persuading Paula and other matrons, who 
belonged to the highest nobility of the city, to go and live 
far away in the Holy Land, because by so doing he would 
become owner and master of their wealth and their 
property. In this way did they seek to defame the holy 
man in secret, and indeed not so very secretly ; thus did 
they tear his life up in their fury. 

At this juncture Pope Damasus died. God permitted 
that by this event His saint should be deprived of patron 
and protector, and alone, to face these hard trials. By the 
death of Damasus the enemies of Jerome remained masters 
•of the field, with many paths open for their designs, because 
his presence alone prevented them from daring to break 
out in public against Jerome, both on account of the great 
friendship which existed between the pontiff and Jerome, 
who were like one soul, and because the holy pontiff had 
suffered similar affronts, and had had infamies laid at his 
charge by two wicked deacons, Concordius and Callistus. 
Without a shadow of doubt, Damasus, had he lived, would 
have taken up the case as his own, and this they had 
feared lest in them would be executed the law — not so 
strict as just — which had been passed in his own cause, 
that he who should falsely accuse another would be liable 
to the same penalty as the accused would have had to 
suffer had his guilt been proved. Meanwhile, as long as 


Damasus lived, there had been only circulated some 
inquiries, some secret hints. 

Damasus died, after governing and occupying the 
apostolic chair nineteen years with great sanctity, powerful 
example, much peace, after leaving arranged most holy 
things, to the augmentation of the divine worship, and 
without doubt he was one of the greatest saints and 
pontiffs who have occupied the Holy See. His death is 
fixed as having taken place in 384. Jerome at the time 
must have been in the forty -fourth year of his age, 
according to the most reliable accounts. This was the 
same year that St. Augustine entered Milan to teach 
rhetoric, he being then thirty years old, as appears from 
what he himself says in his Confessions, cap. xiii. 

The next pontiff elected was Siricius, who at first was 
called Ursicinus or Ursinus — I believe he was first elected 
in competition with Pope Damasus. I have a suspicion 
that, whereas this pontiff was a simple man and easy 
going, occasion was taken by the rivals of the saint 
to publicly exhibit their malice. Although St. Jerome 
was with the Pope some days in Rome, I do not find that 
he mentions him in any noteworthy manner. Twice does 
he mention Siricius in the third part of the Apologia 
against Rufinus. In the Epistle on the epitaph of 
Marcella x he applies to him the term of simple man. He 
gives us to understand that Rufinus took advantage of his 
simplicity to introduce the errors of Origen into Rome, 
deceiving many of the clergy and laymen, and that he also 
deceived or scorned the simplicity of the bishop, this being 
understood of Siricius. Farther on he says that he was 
succeeded by Athanasius after a few years. At this time 
wicked men began to make public the malicious things 
which had been circulated in secret, and they advanced 

1 Epist. 16, c. 41. 


wickedly against the sanctity of Jerome and Paula inven- 
tions such as might be expected from their evil hearts. 
They found a common man, who, for a small bribe and 
interest, brought forward accusations against them. The 
affair reached to such a pitch that, as it concerned persons 
of such high position and importance, this man was 
arrested. He was put to the torture to speak the truth, 
and as malice could not long be hidden away, he declared 
that all he had said and circulated in corners and con- 
venticles was false and evil, and not a word of truth had 
he spoken. That they were both saintly persons, and he 
himself held them as saints. 

But Jerome, on witnessing the great malice that had 
urged these men on, the spirit of his enemies so badly 
disposed in his regard, and feeling that such as had spread 
these falsehoods would still continue in their evil course, 
nor would they cease to persecute him, after mature 
consideration resolved upon quitting Rome. God also 
willed to draw His servant out of the tumult and bustle of 
the world, and that, whereas he had served Him in the 
general and public things of His Church, he in like 
manner should serve Him in other more especial ones, 
ever performing the office of doctor, and by these means 
to bring many others into His service. The holy doctor 
pondered in his mind on the quietude and solitude, and 
his yearning for the Holy Land, and the longings to dwell 
in the holy places were renewed in his heart. 

Let us hear from him the narrative of the case and the 
malice hatched against him, which he depicts in vivid 
colouring in the Epistle which on board ship he wrote 
to Asella, before the anchor was raised and the sails un- 

" Jerome to Asella, 1 health. Did I wish to return you 

1 Epist. 99. 


my thanks for what I owe you I would not know how. 
The Lord is powerful to repay you what for me personally 
you have done ; I, being all unworthy, acknowledge that 
never could it have entered my mind that you should show 
me so much affection in Christ. And though many held 
me to be wicked and full of every vice, and all this, in 
respect to what my sins deserve, be little to bear, yet 
nevertheless you do well to hold as good what may be 
called bad. It is a dangerous thing to judge another's 
servant, and a difficult affair to obtain pardon for the evil 
which is said of the good. There will come, however, there 
will arise a day when you will sorrow with me, on beholding 
no small number burning in fierce flames. I am the perverse 
one, I am the evil one, I the astute, the double-tongued 
man, the deceiver, liar, and the one who with devilish arts 
makes mischief. Now I ask : Which is safest, to have 
believed, or assumed to believe, all this of those who are 
innocent, or not believe any of this of even such as are 
not good ? Some would kiss my hands, and with the 
tongues of vipers would murmur at my actions ; with the 
lips alone they sympathised in my misfortunes, yet in their 
hearts rejoiced that I suffered. The Lord saw them and 
laughed at them ; and as to me, a poor servant of His, He 
guarded me, in order to decide my cause with them in 
judgment. Some would find fault with my manner of 
walking and my laughter; others criticised my diffidence 
and demeanour, and others again murmured at my sincerity 
and plain dealing, and formed imaginations and suspicions. 
For nearly three years did I dwell with them, and many 
came to converse and communicate with me ; to many of 
these I declared the divine books as best I could. Let 
them speak up now ; let them say whether they ever saw 
in me anything which was not allowable, or not in harmony 
with the life of a Christian ? Did I ever receive money ? 


Whatsoever presents and gifts were offered me, whether 
large or small, did I not refuse them ? Did their coins ever 
jingle in my hands ? " and so on St. Jerome proceeds in 
this same strain, and at length concludes with these words ; 
" They called me charmer and magician, and as a faithful 
servant I recognise these honoured titles, since my Lord 
also was called magician by the Jews, and the apostle a 
cheat, and with him I likewise say, never may any 
temptation come to me but what is human. And how small 
a share of trials is this which I now endure, I, who pride 
myself in being a soldier, and one who marches beneath 
the standard of Christ and of His Cross ! The infamy of 
a false crime they laid to my charge ; but I well know that 
through good or evil report must we reach the Kingdom 
of Heaven. Salute from me Paula and Eustochium, mine 
in Christ, whether the world wishes it or not. Salute 
Mother Albina and Sister Marcella, and likewise Marcellina 
and Felicitas, and tell them that we shall all appear 
together before the tribunal of Christ, and there will be 
made manifest how each one has lived. Remember me, 
you who are an illustrious example of virginity and purity, 
and with your prayers mitigate the fury of the waves of 
the sea ! " 

Despite that men were so bitter against him, on 
account of his fearlessness, and the promptitude with 
which he reprehended those who led evil lives, yet when 
brought before his presence they deeply respected him, 
and they would even kiss his garments and hands. Thus 
do even come true the words of the wise man : ' " A 
man is known by his look, and a wise man, when thou 
meetest him, is known by his countenance. The attire of 
the body, and the laughter of the teeth, and the gait of the 
man, show what he is." Because, in the same way as the 

1 Ecclus. xix. 


diseases are seen by outward means, which doctors call 
symptoms, and by which they are able to judge the height 
or kind of fever, and the gravity of the evil suffered, so also 
the virtue or the sickness of the soul appear in the eyes, 
the countenance, and face by certain signs, as being the 
registry or the channels through which anguish and desires 
are poured out. This philosophy is taught us by St. Augus- 
tine, where he says that the eyes which are not pure are 
the messengers of the unchaste soul. And St. Gregory 
Nazianzen in his invectives against Julian the Apostate, 
says that from the signs of his looks, his walk, and attire, 
he at once perceived the great wickedness which that wild 
beast concealed within. And it is in reason that the 
modesty of demeanour and behaviour of our great Jerome 
should always be represented to our eyes, and that we 
should not cease, as his sons, to imitate him, lest through 
our own fault and negligence we should make void the 
Spanish proverb or saying, applied to any one who being 
calm, recollected, and modest in his walk and demeanour, 
" he walks like a Jerome." 

There is one thing, among a hundred others in this 
Epistle, worthy of deep consideration for those who find 
themselves attacked by false testimonies and affronts, that 
the devil endeavours with all his powers then to induce 
them to depart from following the paths commenced, and 
to this purpose he directs all his wiles, more especially 
when it be a good work which is being carried out and 
likely to increase ; and for the same reason a great resist- 
ance and firmness is required. This is very well taught us 
in this letter. There was perceived an admirable constancy 
in St. Jerome, a grand heart raised loftily above all those 
schemes, and master of them ; and there is also another 
thing to be learned by it — not to make much of any present 
trouble, but to set the eye and the aim on what is eternal, 


and where there exists another tribunal set in justice, 
where, without respect of persons or deceit of any kind, 
causes are examined, and where neither favour avails, nor 
power, nor even malice, but only rectitude and cleanness 
of heart, and the good works which may accompany the 
soul. It is also worthy of being kept in mind, since it is 
the sole consolation of the good, that oftentimes the 
murmurs of the bad and the evil eye, directed against 
them, spring from the fact that, as they perceive that 
others are praised and esteemed by reason of their virtues, 
while they themselves, on account of their wretched lives 
and intercourse, are detested and held in disesteem, no con- 
fidence placed in their person in any one thing, they take as 
a means (when they dare not rise up to where the good are) 
to try and bring them down to their own level, either by 
speaking ill of their lives, defaming them, scorning their 
ways, raising up against them false testimonies, and by dis- 
suading them — when they can do no more — from following 
the path of rectitude. This they do, because it would be 
a great solace to their rage and envy that there should 
exist no good persons, nor any one signal in virtue, who 
should react as a note and correction on their own lives, but 
that all should pursue the one road they follow, lost and 
undone ; thus they would not be known, nor the others 
judged superior to themselves. Against all this, he, who 
would assume to be a servant of God, must oppose a bold 
front, with the heart of a Jerome, and laugh at them, 
saying : " Brother, walk wherever you may wish, and 
leave me alone ! If you hold him to be a fool or hapless, 
who journeys along the road of roughness, and the narrow 
path, which leads to life, and who strives to enter in by the 
still narrower gate, which is that of penance, I hold you to be 
far more miserable and bereft of judgment who walk along 
the wide highway, which you call level, by which many 


journey on to death. If you hold me to be a fool because 
I do violence to my flesh and to my senses, and deprive 
myself of what this body of sin craves, and the law of 
sensuality, I on my part judge you deficient of sense, in 
that you do not hear the voice of the Saviour, who says 
that from the days of St. John the Baptist (that is to say, 
since the preaching of penance) the kingdom of heaven 
suffereth violence and is conquered, and that it is the 
violent who carry it away." 

In a word, from this letter is clearly gathered the con- 
dition and conversation of the world, and the nature of the 
same. Who that saw St. Jerome, when he entered into 
Rome, received with so much applause, and who was so 
greatly desired, of such high repute as we have shown, 
who worked things of such great utility in the Church 
things which none other ever had done, and within the 
short space of three years, during which he laboured so 
indefatigably in the city, did such incredible work, now 
sees him as he is about to leave that city ! Affronted, dis- 
honoured, persecuted, scorned, he must needs consider his 
honour and write the letter he did. Oh, great Doctor 
of the Church ! It was well that this should happen thus. 
You used oftentimes to say : " The disciple is not greater 
than the Master! And whereas you take glory in 
being servant of Jesus Christ, bear in mind with what 
glory and applause He was received in Jerusalem shortly 
before the Passover, and in what a manner he came forth 
out of Jerusalem." 

And well does the saint manifest to us that the above 
thought was not far from the mind, since he himself says 
that he returns infinite thanks to His Divine Majesty for 
making him worthy of the world's hatred. And the reader 
who will continue considering the course of the life of this 
great doctor, will find that he is great in everything, in 


being persecuted, murmured at, and calumniated ; most 
great, because the devil took up as an undertaking to cast 
him down, and to oppose him and to make war on him, 
because the saint was himself waging a fierce war on him. 
We have already seen what passed in the desert : how he 
suffered grievous sickness in the body, terrible and con- 
tinued temptations in the soul ; on one side the heretics, 
and so that there should be no part of him without being 
fatigued, in return for the benefits he worked in Rome he 
is dismissed, and he bids farewell to the city in the manner 
we have seen him do. But why marvel at this ? For he 
himself besought these trials of his Lord, and he desired 
them, because, being the wise person he was, he fully com- 
prehended the interest that accrues from this manner of 
trials and persecutions, and which answers to the sum and 
esteem at which the same Lord Himself values them (who 
permits them) and gives in return that which is a hundred- 

Let us hear what St. Jerome says in the closing words 
of his Commentaries on Sophonias : — 

" Oh, Lord Jesus Christ ! give me to be oppressed, 
afflicted, crushed, and repulsed in this age, so that Thou 
mayest receive me and set me in glory." 

These are the concluding words of an excellent dis- 
course which, for the consolation of the afflicted, Jerome 
had written on the words of the prophet, in which God, 
speaking to Jerusalem, says (according to the translation of 
the Septuagint) : " Behold, I will do in thee and for thee 
in those days, and will save the crushed, and receive in me 
the forsaken, and will place them (He means His sons) 
in glory, and will name them in all the earth." The 
sense of this, says the saintly doctor, is as follows : "I 
shall save her, who in this present life should be crushed 
and oppressed, like the olive and the grape, under the beam 

2 c 


of the wine-press and the screw of the oil-mill, in order to 
bring forth the oil and the wine, and of this wine Jesus 
Christ shall drink in the kingdom of His Father, and 
with the oil be anointed above all his companions and 
brethren. And from the distillation of this pressing and 
of this ointment it strikes me Job suffered so many things, 
that, being well bruised and yielding these liquors and 
these juices, he heard these words from the Lord : ' Dost 
thou think, forsooth, that the cause was none other for my 
having thus replied, but in order that thy justice may be 
made manifest ? ' As though to the olive and to the vine 
their master should speak and say : ' Do you believe 
that I have thus crushed you for any other reason but that 
you might yield up the wine and the oil which you have 
within you ? ' " This is of the saint, and full worthy of 
being kept in remembrance, together with many other 
things which he adds there, drawn from the book of his 
experience, which applies to him equally well as to holy 
Job. We could well ask him the same question, and con- 
clude with him in the same words as he ends a little 
farther on : " They will be confounded, oh saint ! your 
adversaries and such as presumed to affront you ; the day 
will come when the wicked and those who are called power- 
ful in this world shall see with their own eyes that those 
whom they considered unfortunate and miserable are now 
enjoying felicity, and placed in the highest glory and wealth 
are those whom they contemned as being in poverty, and 
also will they see to their grief those who in dire servitude 
and miserable captivity had been set in this exile under 
their empire changed into the liberty of the celestial 
Jerusalem, and they themselves rising up, not for a similar 
glory, but for eternal misery and confusion." Up to this 
all is Jerome's speech, and very much his, since it so well 
fits him. 


God revealed to his soul the success of his affairs ; for 
of his rivals and adversaries there scarcely remain any 
other memories but what Jerome records of them, while he 
himself lives gloriously in the heavens above, and here 
below on earth in the memory of all men and in the annals 
of the undying Church of God. 


The Journey of St. Jerome from Rome to the Holy Land 

Jerome departed from Rome, or, in his own words, he 
left Babylon and the world for a second time. He left 
that city enriched by a thousand things drawn from the 
mine of his intelligence. And in return for these good 
works he received what the world usually gives, for, even 
if it would, it could give nothing better — that is to say, 
persecutions and affronts. This time he did not go alone, 
nor indeed did he go alone the first time ; but now he 
proceeds accompanied by his brother Paulinian, a youth 
of great promise. He takes also with him Vincentius, 
a priest, and he is followed by a further holy company of 
monks, who had gathered around him when in Rome. 
These had resorted to that city by the fame of his name, 
his sanctity and letters, as did all those who wished to 
profit by these things, coming from Italy, France, and 
other parts, he teaching them what they wanted to know, 
and in truth they learned much. They had not fared so 
badly in his company that they should wish to separate 
themselves from him, therefore they accompanied him in 
this important journey, nor did they wish to leave 
him until they should reach Bethlehem, where there they 
persevered in the holy manner of life, which they were 

constantly learning from him. Many other persons 



followed and went forth with Jerome. These, indeed, 
were the spoils with which he left triumphantly the 
ungrateful city ; for they had been, and were, the wit- 
nesses both of his great virtues and the accusers of her 
great disloyalty. 

But a very different journey did he make now from 
Rome to the Holy Land than he had done the first time, 
because, as we have seen, the first was by land, this one 
by sea, so that there should be no trouble left untasted by 
our saint, and he should thus be able to say with St. Paul, 
that he suffered trials by water and by land, from false 
brethren, in the desert, and in the cities. It was in 
the month of August that, leaving the capital of the 
Roman Church enriched by far more precious treasures 
than the Emperor from whom the month derived its name 
had increased it by the spoils of Egypt and of Asia, our new 
Augustus arrived at the port of Ostia, which was called the 
Roman Port, and there took ship with all the company we 
have stated, leaving behind many others, sad and tearful 
at his departure, and others also who were both on foot and 
on horse ready to follow. Yet there were others, again, 
who were full of joy at finding themselves delivered of a 
censor who to their mind was so outspoken, because it is 
ever a sting to the evil-doers to have the presence of the 
good, and they are harassed by the very sight of them. 
When he embarked, he wrote the letter we have already 
mentioned. The winds carried the ship to the part of 
Italy called Reggio in those days, by which some have 
affirmed the island of Sicily is reached. From thence he 
proceeded below the Peloponnesus, which now is called 
Morea, where once stood the celebrated city of Sparta ; at 
the present time parts of its walls are still in existence, as 
also the fame of the Lacedaemonians. The course of this 
voyage is found in detail, written by the holy doctor him- 


self, in the Apologia contra Rufinum 1 — to Antioch, and from 
Antioch to Jerusalem, enduring great cold, for it was mid- 

He tells us in this description of the many fables 
concerning the ancients and their origin ; the songs of the 
sirens and the gorges and caverns celebrated by the 
ancient poets, all which may be perused by such as wish. 
From what relates to the purpose of the journey we 
may gather that the trials and dangers from unkind 
murmurs did not arrest his voyage, nor caves of Scylla, 
nor the ambition of Charybdis ; neither is he detained by 
the flatteries and sweet songs of sensuality and pleasure 
of the Sirens, nor was he deceived by the artifices and 
falseness of the vices of the flesh, nor the malice of evil- 
intentioned men ; nor is he ruled by prosperous or adverse 
fortune, friends or enemies, the applause of the world nor 
its false intercourse, nor by the great city, nor the honour- 
able offices and charges, nor false testimonies, nor false 
brethren, nor all the perils of the course of this life were 
ever able to detain, separate, trouble, or deter him from 
following his aim — the firmly determined purpose of seek- 
ing God, and of loving him with all his powers. Our 
doctor tells us that on arriving at Cyprus he was received 
with great joy by St. Epiphanius, whose testimony and 
credit Rufinus had greatly appreciated before he became 
so well known. The saintly prelate was overjoyed at his 
presence ; to him Jerome gave a lengthy account of all 
that he had gone through in Rome, and signified to him 
that his desire was to live in the Holy Land, and, if 
possible, in the cave at Bethlehem. The two saints 
became great friends ; their souls manifested the zeal 
which they had for the Christian religion, the opposition 
and enmity of the heretics, the similarity of their cus- 

1 Apolog. in Rufin. lib. iii. c. 7. 


toms and desires and aims being such that perforce the 
affection between them increased. All this is clearly 
apparent in many places in the writings of both, and in 
the Apologiae of our doctor against Rufinus more 
especially, and the same against John of Jerusalem, 
where he defends himself against both very earnestly. 
After resting here some time he proceeded on his 
journey, going from Cyprus to Antioch, where he was 
received in like manner by the saintly Bishop Paulinus 
with no less joy than he had been by Epiphanius. 
In truth Paulinus owed much to St. Jerome, both for 
having given him a good character in the east with all the 
faithful, because, when it was seen that St. Jerome, a man 
of such learning and sanctity, so great an enemy of the 
Arians, communicated with him, all men felt assured of his 
faith and held him to be a true Catholic and saint (which in 
truth he was), and also because in Rome, in regard to Pope 
Damasus, his friendship had been of great importance to 
him, and thus he had come confirmed in the Bishopric by 
the Apostolic See, an act which the Pope would not do in 
regard to Meletius, who, although he was truly a Catholic 
and of great sanctity, since he merited that both the 
luminaries of the Greek Church, Basil and Nazianzen, 
should laud him with signal praises for his sanctity, yet 
as he had been elected and brought by the Arians from 
Armenia, he did not wish to show him much favour, and 
this is the whole reason given by Theodoretus for the 
disfavour of Meletius shown by the Pope. In those 
days things were very disturbed, and more especially was 
this the case in regard to that Church of Antioch ; even the 
Arians themselves accused Meletius of being a Sabellian, 
despite that this heresy was so opposed to their own. 
And Theodoretus 1 himself says that the persecution of 

1 Theod. lib. iii. c. 5 ; lib. v. c. 3. 


the Arians against the good Meletius was such that they 
cast him from the bishopric. 1 It was a scheme of the 
Arians in those days when they saw any man distinguish- 
ing himself in letters or sanctity, and that he was going 
against the sect, to say of him that he was a heretic, point- 
ing him out as an Origenist, or a Sabellian, or Nestorian. 
In this way they accused Paulinus of being a Sabel- 
lian, and even Jerome, as we said before. This was 
the journey of our doctor from Ostia, along the whole 
Mediterranean, to Sicily and the Peloponnesus, Cyprus, 
and Antioch. Jerome remained in Antioch some days. 
The contentions and disturbances among the prelates 
were as great as ever, and continued for many years, 
the heretics fanning the flame (for it suits them to have 
no peace). Jerome quitted Antioch accompanied by his 
friend Paulinus, and with so good a companion he reached 
Jerusalem, despite that others understand it otherwise. 
The words of the saint are these : " From Cyprus I came 
to Antioch, where I enjoyed the conversation of the 
saintly pontiff and confessor Paulinus, and being guided 
by him we went down in the midst of the winter and its 
bitter cold from Antioch to Jerusalem. On entering the 
latter place I saw strange marvels, and what I had known 
only by repute I now saw with my eyes." 

It must have been about the Epiphany, since he says 
it was mid-winter, when, guided by his good star, Jerome 
entered to adore Jesus in those holy places consecrated 
by His footprints, and in the wide chalice of his great heart 
there would not be wanting the mystic gifts of gold, in- 
cense, and myrrh. The saintly doctor declares that he 
saw with his own eyes miracles of which he had only heard 
by repute. I do not know what these miracles were which 
he witnessed, nor what extraordinary events to which the 

1 Tripart. lib. v. c. 48. 


saint applies this name» I surmise that he speaks of the 
eyes which faith places in the soul, and that all those 
places which the holy Scriptures mention as having been 
visited by our Only Good were patent to his view, repre- 
sented so vividly that the eyes of the body were super- 
fluous. Oh, Divine Goodness ! What burning sighs 
must he have exhaled from his breast ! What sweet 
tears must have trickled down from his eyes to his lips, 
and what words must he have uttered so burning from the 
furnace of his mind ! What conceptions, what motives, 
what pregnant thoughts must have been awakened by 
those marvellous memories ! How he must have counted 
the footsteps taken for our salvation by our Saviour and 
our Life, and how he must have wept for those taken in 
vain for us ! Methinks I see Jerome kissing the ground, 
the stones, the walls — now on his knees, now prostrated, 
barefoot, standing, adoring the places where His divine 
feet had passed. Who can but be fired with wrath, or 
grieved at the blindness of so many heretics, old and new, 
who, loth to leave anything in the Church without being 
soiled, have wagged their tongues against holy pilgrimages 
and visits to the holy places, scorning them as fruitless, 
and not satisfied with qualifying them as a thing impious 
and irreligious, but even add that it be sheer idolatry ! 
They manifest hatred towards all that can awaken and 
open a path to the love of the things of God and of 
His saints. 

I have proposed in this history not to treat upon 
common places, nor dispute holy dogmas, but simply to 
follow the office of historian, and defend the things that 
touch the glory and honour of this saint ; hence I will not 
linger in the defence, against these censors, of holy 
pilgrimages made by pious and devout souls. All this 
has been examined by many learned men and investigated 


to the very fount and defended convincingly. Hence I 
will only state that it will not be outside my purpose to 
defend my saint and patron against them, proving that 
pilgrimages are not things to be laughed at, nor idolatrous, 
as they blasphemously call them, but works of very high 
merit. Because if there is one saint in the Church 
whom these reasons and affronts more deeply touch, it 
is Jerome, both on account of the many pilgrimages he 
performed from his boyhood, when, as we have already 
seen, he visited the sepulchres of the martyrs, as also by 
reason of the many persons he persuaded to make them 
from various parts of the world to the Holy Land, from 
Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Africa. 

Let us, then, hear from his own lips what he says and 
feels in his soul in regard to these holy visits, where he 
writes a description of his journey with St. Paula and 
others to the holy places : 1 " On coming to Bethlehem 
and entering the small cave of the Saviour, on beholding 
the inn and hostel of the Blessed Virgin, the stable where 
the ox knew the Lord and the ass the crib of its master, 
in order that thereby should be fulfilled what was 
prophesied by Isaiah, 2 Blessed are ye that sow upon all 
waters, sending thither the foot of the ox and the ass. The 
holy matron would oftentimes declare to me that with the 
eyes of faith she could see the Infant in swaddling clothes 
and the Infinite Lord weeping in the crib ; that she beheld 
the angels entering to adore Him, and the brilliant star 
shining over the little house ; she would see the Virgin 
Mother, the careful guardian, and the shepherds coming 
in at night, and the magi entering in to adore. Like 
manna were represented to her the murdered innocents, 
Herod enraged and furious, Joseph and Mary flying into 
Egypt, and weeping copious tears sprung from joy and 

1 Epist. 27. 2 Isaiah xxxii. 20. 


emotion, she would cry out, Hail Bethlehem / House of 
Bread! where that bread was born which descended from 
heaven / Hail Euphrates / most fertile region, fruit 
producing, abundant in harvests, whose fulness is God!" 
All these sentiments does our saint employ when de- 
picting what came forth from the heart of the holy matron 
at beholding these sacred places. 

In the Epistle to Marcella the saint treats of all this 
with much tenderness and eloquence, inviting her to come 
to the Holy Land, replying to all the objections and diffi- 
culties which Marcella should urge against doing so. Many 
are the praises poured upon the dwelling of Jerusalem for 
various reasons. It is said Adam lived and died there, 
and was, so it is affirmed, buried in the same place where 
Jesus Christ was crucified, so that the blood which flowed 
from the Second Adam should wash away the sin com- 
mitted on the tree of Paradise. Also, because many 
prophets had lived there, and the names of Jebus, Salem, 
and Jerusalem are the symbols of the Trinity, and many 
other arguments and pious reasons, by which he declares 
its grandeur. Marcella replies (so he assumes) that all 
this is true, and could be well applied to those times when 
God loved the gates of Sion above all the tabernacles of 
Jacob, and its foundations were upon the high mountains ; 
but that after they crucified on it the Lord of the world, 
and it became contaminated by so horrible a crime as 
the spilling of His blood and that of the apostles and 
other servants of God, it justly remained cursed and 
forsaken by the divine grace ; and that Josephus, the 
historian of the place, mentions that voices were heard in 
the Temple before the coming of Titus to destroy it, 
which said, " Let us pass on from this place to other 
dwellings." To this Jerome replies that all this was done 
in hatred and punishment of the ungrateful Israelitish 


people, but not in hatred or punishment of the city and 
land ; and that if it was destroyed, it was because of the 
inhabitants ; the Temple fell in order that its sacrifices 
should cease ; and that if we consider and view the spot 
in itself and the city, we shall find them more noble and 
grander than they had been before. The Jews formerly 
honoured the holy of holies by reason of its cherubim, 
for its table of propitiation, the ark of the Testament, 
the vessel of manna, the rod of Aaron, the table and altar 
of gold ; and does not this seem to you more worthy 
of reverence, the sepulchre of the Lord? As often as 
we enter in, so often is represented to us the Saviour 
enveloped in the winding-sheet ; and on lingering a while 
there rises up at the foot of the sepulchre the angel seated, 
and at the head the cloths drawn together. And long 
before this sepulchre had been made by Joseph it had 
been praised by Isaiah manifesting its majesty by saying, 
" And it will be the place of his rest, honour, and glory, 
because it was to be the sepulchre of the Lord, ordered by 
all." After bringing forward many things to this purpose, 
he utters a sentence well worthy of such high judgment : 
" Throughout the world we reverence the sepulchres of 
the martyrs, and their holy ashes we place on our eyes, 
and, if allowed, we kiss and touch lovingly with our lips ; 
and the sepulchre where our Lord was laid, how can any 
one think it be so lightly esteemed? If we disbelieve 
men, let us at least believe the devil himself and his 
wicked angels, because each time that they come in 
presence of this holy sepulchre they rush out of the 
bodies they had taken possession of, they tremble, fume, 
and writhe as though they were at the bar and tribunal of 
Jesus Christ, and they repent, when too late, of having 
crucified Him whom they now fear so greatly." Why 
then do they not read this paragraph, those evil censors 


of pilgrimages, and such as scorn the holy places and the 
relics and ashes of the martyrs? If Jerome be in their 
regard of any authority, let them read this part and put 
aside their ignorance — unless malice has hardened their 
hearts into stone. 

Here it strikes me that I perceive the miracles which 
our saint implies he witnessed on entering into Jerusalem ; 
and many other marvels must have taken place there 
which our saintly doctor does not mention, no doubt 
because they did not come to the purpose, or possibly 
because they were notorious and well known. The same 
does he tell us occurred at the sepulchre of St. John the 
Baptist, 1 for in the Epitaph of St. Paula he says as 
follows : " Proceeding farther on, she saw the sepulchre 
of the twelve prophets and the city of Sebaste, which is 
Samaria, and now is called Augusta, its name having been 
changed in honour of Augustus, at which place lie buried 
Eliseus and Abdias, and he who among those born of 
woman had no superior, that is to say, St. John the 
Baptist, where' she was struck with astonishment at the 
prodigies she witnessed there. In her very presence she 
saw with her eyes, and heard with her ears, the devils 
roaring under the torture of divers torments, and in sight 
of the sepulchre men possessed by evil spirits howled like 
wolves, barked like dogs, roared like lions, hissed like 
serpents, and bellowed like bulls. Some would so twist 
their heads that they touched their backs on the ground ; 
others performed strange contortions. Paula compassion- 
ated them all, prayed for them, weeping tender tears." 

From all this is sufficiently proved our proposition, 
and our Christian Cicero has well manifested to us the 
great power, not only natural, but heavenly and divine, 
which the holy places possess, to move us and awaken 

1 Epist. 27, c. 6. 


souls to the love of celestial things, to urge us to 
the imitation of the lives of those who dwelt there, 
to similar desires of perfection and amendment of life. 1 
Pilgrimages are not made in vain, when undertaken with 
recollection and piety ; for although our holy doctor by 
words and example encouraged pilgrimages, yet dissuades 
Paulinus, the Monk, from performing them, because for 
his institute it was more appropriate to keep quiet and 
retired. It is not always advisable to such, whose lives 
are vowed to silence and retirement, for it is not good for 
the monk and the nun and other religious to come and go, 
and lose that quietude, recollection, solitude, and repose 
which is their state. Hence we have the examples of 
St. Anthony and St. Hilarius, who, although living in 
Palestine, yet only once did they see Jerusalem, and this 
was done to manifest that it was a holy thing to visit the 
holy places. 

1 Concil. Kabylonense sub Carolo Magn. cant. 45 ; Trident August, Epist. 1 37 ; 
Beda, lib. v. Hist. c. 7; Socrates, lib. vii. ; Cassianus, lib. iv., De institute renuntian ; 
Sulpicius, lib. ii. Hist. 


St. Jerome goes from Jerusalem to Egypt. Proceeds to the 
Deserts of Nitria. Visits the holy monks dwelling 
there. Paula arrives at Bethlehem. 

When St. Jerome had enjoyed to the full the holy places, 
his soul refreshed, his heart full of joy by the sweet recol- 
lections of our Saviour and Lord, of His holy mother, of 
the saintly apostles and prophets, his friend Paulinus bade 
him farewell, and returned to his church at Antioch, in 
order no longer to be absent from the flock which had 
been entrusted to his care. 

Our doctor, with the desire of the monastic life ever 
before him and impressed in his soul, decided to under- 
take the very difficult journey to Egypt. He even wished 
in this to be like his Master, Who, although not flying 
from Herod, yet he was flying away as far as he could 
from the world. This he himself states in the Apologia 
against Rufnus, 1 where he says : " From Jerusalem I 
took the road to Egypt, and proceeded to visit the 
monasteries of Nitria, and among the choirs of holy monks 
I saw that there dwelt also poisonous asps." 

We cannot desist from admiring the enthusiasm of this 
great father and the desire of finding Christian perfection ; 
wherever he deems he may find it, there does he journey ; 

1 Lib. 3, cap. 7. 


he does not mind the perils of the seas or of wild lands, 
peoples, deserts, beasts or men. Egypt in those days was 
a great school of sanctity, as in other times it had been of 
errors. Within those deserts there had come to dwell 
many men of singular perfection, of so powerful an 
influence that their example sufficed to people those 
wilds. Those two brave captains of this army of sanctity, 
Anthony and Paul, the one silently, the other by the force 
of his exhortations, raised the flag, opened the road, chased 
away fear, facilitating what appeared on all counts im- 
possible for man's power to accomplish. Jerome, by the 
truth of his deeds, conquered the most absurd and 
monstrous fictions of the Greeks. It did not seem to our 
saintly monk that he could boast of such a name, unless 
for some days at least he studied at that school, practising 
and experiencing in himself the rule of life followed. He 
would cross those deserts frightful to men of little faith, 
but which were more lovely to his eyes than the gardens 
of Italy and Athens. He sought out the monks hidden 
in caves, ignored of men, but not of the angels nor of 
God, with whom they solely conversed. Some he would 
find in the depths of caves, others in valleys even deeper, 
others again on rough rugged mountains, this one in an 
old cistern, another in a ruined house, in miserable huts, 
in the hollow of decayed trunks of oak and cork trees ; 
but one and all leading lives of angels, whence they 
would ascend in countless numbers, freed from the 
trammels of their bodies, to the mansions of heaven. All 
these treasures did the insatiable holy cupidity of this 
discoverer of precious things find ; he overcame the 
difficulties of the roads, the roughness of the various 
lands, bad passes ; he would scramble up the rocks, he 
would hang over precipices and make perilous descents, he 
feared neither wild beasts nor poisonous reptiles, nor 


did he care much to lose his life, who hoped to find it 
in death. Nothing frightened him, however arduous or 
monstrous it might be, since he that loves is not daunted 
by any difficulty. At times he found himself in such 
narrow passes that he could neither go forward, nor did 
it appear honourable to turn back ; his shoes broken to 
pieces by the sharp, rough stones, hence he had to proceed 
barefooted, but he himself was very joyous, as though he 
were journeying on to behold that bush which burned 
without becoming consumed, and, judging that the spot 
and land was holy, he followed on to witness those lives 
of saints. For the sake of enjoying for a short time the 
conversation of a servant of God, all things appeared small 
in comparison by reason of the great love he had for this 
intercourse. It also seemed to him, when he met one 
of these solitaries, that it was the pearl which the gospel 
speaks of that was hidden in the fields, and that to obtain 
it, it were little to give the shoes off his feet — and even 
the very blood of those feet. The holy doctor mentions 
some of these men in his Epistles and treatises. In the 
Epistle which he wrote to Eustochium on Virginity, he 
describes the variety and difference of monks existing in 
Egypt as we have said : Coenobites, who live in community; 
Remobites, which live in twos and twos or in threes and 
threes ; Anchorites, who dwell alone in the deserts. Of 
these, he says, that, though they live in the flesh, they live 
not a life of flesh, but of the spirit, and promises to demon- 
strate their manner of life in another part, when occasion 
offers itself. 

St. Jerome does not inform us what road he took from 
Jerusalem to Egypt. It would not have been easy for 
him to do so, because as he traversed mountains and 
valleys and ranges of hills, where never by any chance man 
had passed, it could not be stated, and even had it been 



stated, it would not have been found again. I surmise he 
must have followed the track taken by the sons of Israel, 
when they came from Egypt to Canaan and the Promised 
Land, for whereas he was to be not only master of monks 
and hermits, but also doctor of the Church, God guided 
him in this path, in order he should see all those dwelling- 
places they made, the mansions wherein God's people 
were sheltered in those deserts for forty years, being 
supported by faith in His word, sending down to them the 
bread and the meat from heaven ; this surmise I base on 
that divine epistle which he wrote to the saintly Fabiola, 
because in life he had promised it to her. 1 In this 
Epistle he reveals the secret and the spirit of what he 
witnessed with the eyes of the body ; and, with a genius 
worthy of Jerome, declares with a continuous running 
allegory the whole journey. Well pleased would I be to 
linger discovering some part of this discourse, which 
Jerome proceeds making in these mansions and stopping- 
places, both because it would be of much profit to the 
soul, as for the great pleasure its narrative would afford, 
as also to investigate with great diligence this road, so as 
to make it known for good ; forasmuch as there are many 
opinions respecting it, and it is not easy to decide the point. 
It is history that I am writing (although it is of a doctor 
of the Church), and therefore I dare not extend my work 
beyond what touches upon the doctrine and defence of the 
saint ; 2 therefore, for the time being, let this remain in 
doubt, while I myself must continue without knowing 
through what route our doctor made the journey from 
Jerusalem to Egypt, because whereas he does not mention 
finding himself in any of these mansions, this silence gives 
me to understand that he proceeded by the common road. 
Of this journey he speaks in the epitaph of St. Paula. I am 

1 Epist. 12 j. 2 Vide Hispaniara Goropii. 


also doubtful whether this journey was distinct from the first. 
I mean to say, if he went first with only his companions, 
and subsequently went again, and with Paula, or went but 
once, and then in her company also. I myself believe he 
went twice, and that in the second journey Paula went 
also. The journey was made across those sandy, deserted 
places, and uninhabitable, which lie between the Sea of 
Syria and the Red Sea (Mare Rubrum). The land between 
these is called the field of Etham. From thence they went 
to the fields of Gessen, where stood the city of Rameses ; 
the Hebrew word gasam means pluvia and rain, hence 
land of Gessen sounds like land of rain. These fields of 
Gessen lie in the lower part of Egypt, at the mouth of 
the river Nile, which is called Pelusium, and reaches to the 
Red Sea, and whereas here it rains, and not over the rest 
of Egypt, the land adopted the name pluvia. And it is 
the place where the patriarch Joseph received and housed 
his father Jacob and his brothers, and gave them posses- 
sions wherein to live, forasmuch as it was good ground for 
their herds. It is divided from the rest of Egypt at the 
part which on passing the Nile looks towards the land of 
Canaan. Here is the city of Rameses, which name, if 
divided into parts, means the tribute which is given to 
kings on what is pastured there. 

I am well aware that our saintly doctor gives another 
interpretation to this name, and means tronido de gozo, a 
thunderclap of joy, while others say it signifies turbulent 
movement (movimiento turbulento), and draws many holy 
allegories from either interpretation. The saint says, 
previous to the above words, that the holy matron St. 
Paula came to the river of Egypt, Sior, and writers agree 
that this is the Nile, and the same called in holy Scriptures 
Sichor and Phison. He further says that after passing the 
land of Gessen and the fields of Tanis, where God had 


worked such marvels, and the city of Noph, afterwards called 
Alexandria, and the town of God, Nitria, where with the 
salt and chalk of the virtues are daily washed the stains 
of many. He here calls Nitria City of the Lord: 
declaring the reason, alluding to the name of nitre, saltpetre 
or salitre, which has the virtue and power of cleaning 
stains on cloth, like soap and lye. And whereas that city 
had been newly converted to the faith, and by the blood 
of Christ being recently poured upon its inhabitants great 
virtues were practised and much penance done, he, with 
good reason, called it the Town of the Lord. To these 
holy practices many holy fathers and monks resorted who 
were dwelling there, as well as from the neighbouring 
desert. A huge tract of land is occupied by great deserts 
reaching to the confines of Ethiopia and Mauritania. In 
these there is a large wood, which is called of Nitria, 
between which and the city of Alexandria there stands 
a lake called Moeris. In this wood, as our saint states, 
there dwelt a large number and diversity of monks : it is 
said over five thousand in number. The observance of 
rules, rigour, roughness, and perfection of life followed was 
admirable. Prodigious things are related of them, and 
their deeds are the themes of many authors of the time. 
Among other high perfections and heroic virtues strict 
poverty outshone ; they possessed not one thing, be it 
small or large, which was not examined by the hands of 
the superior. In brief words he praises the sanctity of 
these servants of God, as far as it could be enhanced, in 
the last phrases we have quoted above in the Apologia 
contra Rufinus, for he had seen with his own eyes in this 
visit which he made that the asps dwelt amid the choirs 
of the monks. I put aside the allegory, which here works 
against Rufinus, observing that some of these monks were 
Origenists. The asp is a venomous serpent, and, as 


CElian says, 1 despite that there are many varieties, yet 
all have so deadly a venom that their sting causes instant 
death, and the last remedy is sharply to cut off the part 
bitten. Notwithstanding this fact these deadly reptiles 
preserved such peace with these holy men, or better said, 
angels, that they followed the monks to the choir and 
lived together with them ; so great was their sanctity, so 
firm their faith and confidence ; thus verifying to the letter 
what Isaias says 2 would be witnessed in the blessed times 
of the gospel, that the child should confidently place its 
hand in the nest of the asp ; and the suckling child shoulc? 
play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall 
thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk. Here it 
comes to the purpose to relate what Palladius in his 
History says in regard to a young monk, who, meeting 
one of these reptiles, fearlessly took it up and carried it to 
the monastery, thus showing the obedience tendered by all 
things to the servants of God, and how all are subject, 
and give the tribute of obedience which is due to them, by 
natural right, if they themselves do not deny t it to God, 
and the malice of sin does not give them liberty to rebel 
and make war. This also is referred by St. Nilus in the 
Chapters on Prayer as having occurred to many saints of 
those deserts. Of the Abbot Teon he says in Chapter 
CI I. that being with other monks in the fields conversing 
on spiritual things (for this indeed was ever their conver- 
sation), there came two vipers under his feet, and he, as 
one who was safe, placed his feet on them, and without 
moving continued his discourse, and at its conclusion he 
showed them to the monks. The same is told of another 
holy man in Chapter CI 1 1, that an asp came to his feet, 
when engaged in prayer, and he allowed it to continue 
there until his prayer was ended, and then, without 

1 QJlian, lib. 9, a cap. 20, usque 29. 2 Isaias, xi. 8. 


hurting or stinging the monk, it withdrew, because (as the 
saint here remarks) it was reasonable that he who loved 
his God more than himself, and risked his life rather 
than lose the respect due to God in prayer, in his turn 
should be respected by these poisonous animals, and they 
should abstain from inflicting harm upon such a being. 

Many other examples of this kind did our Jerome 
witness among those celestial inhabitants of the woods and 
desert of Nitria. He studied the order and manner of 
their life, the perfection which by the lofty course of their 
state they had attained to, the advice and the warnings, and 
the watchfulness, which have to be followed and observed 
against vices, which are the devils and the enemies of the 
spiritual life ; he kept them all in his mind in order to 
profit from them himself, and for the profit also of others ; 
and though this stay of his among them was short, yet 
he never forgot the lessons he had heard and learned, 
for to such as have a great desire to advance a short 
time is of great value. Let the great Father Hilarion 
speak, since in only two months, which he attended the 
school and professed the discipleship of the great Abbot 
Anthony, he carried away so signally and well learned the 
order and the manner of the life followed by him in 
acquiring virtues, in vanquishing demons, and other holy 
exercises and advices, that the saint boasted having so good 
a disciple, calling him, with loving words, his son. Similarly 
can the holy men of Nitria glory in having had, although 
but for so short a time, such a disciple as Jerome. On 
concluding the narrative of his journey in the Apologia, he 
states that he returned with hastened speed to Bethlehem, 
because there he had his heart and his affections. 

It is urged that after the departure of Jerome from 
Rome, the holy matron Paula soon followed, losing no 
time in her desire to dwell in the Holy Land. The 


journey was quickly determined upon, and I believe 
Jerome had not yet passed from the island of Sicily, where 
he had sojourned for some time, before Paula overtook 
him. I gather this to have been the case from the words 
of the epitaph which he wrote at her death, where he 
gives the description of his journey and passage by 
sea, but the doctor does not say that they travelled 
together. Despite that this seems probable, yet they 
may have been two journeys, and Paula have gone, 
as it seems, a year later, although no doubt she followed 
the route taken by Jerome, more especially as her deep 
regard for St. Epiphanius and St. Paulinus, both having 
been guests at her house in Rome, must have been a 
sufficient reason for the journey to have been taken by the 
same route in order to visit these holy prelates. 

Jerome and Paula were now to dwell in their greatly 
yearned-for Bethlehem. They chose that holy land for 
their only refuge, in order to pass with less turbulence the 
great waves of this life's ocean, so full of dangers. 

At the present day there still remains at Bethlehem 
some vestiges of the chambers wherein lived St. Jerome 
and where he wrote. This dwelling is not far removed 
from the temple, close to the place where our Saviour was 
circumcised. And towards the south there appears a 
grotto, where many of the bodies of the holy Innocents 
were brought. Nicephoras and Eusebius say that St. 
Helena built there a church. Close to it there is a 
monastery of friars of St. Francis. Towards the east 
are seen vestiges of the sepulchres of St. Paula and her 
daughter, St. Eustochium. 

Let us proceed to see what St. Jerome and St. Paula, 
each in their way, did after their arrival. 


St. Paula builds four Monasteries in Bethlehem, and St. 
Jerome one. He washes the Feet of the Pilgrims. 

Saint Paula, on arriving at Bethlehem, burning with the 
desire of poverty as her rule of life rather than of 
necessity, enclosed herself in a small dwelling for three 
years. This we are told by her faithful witness, St. 
Jerome. 1 The fame of her great virtues and sanctity had 
spread to such an extent that from many parts young 
maidens of all conditions of life were flocking to be under 
her rule ; hence it became necessary, in order to receive 
so large a company, to build three monasteries. These 
three monasteries, to my mind, were not separate build- 
ings, but one large edifice divided into three sections. 
Paula also erected a fourth, a monastery for men, and 
besides these four a guest-house for the reception of the 
crowds of pilgrims which resorted there, from all parts of 
the world, to visit these holy places. The order followed 
by St. Paula in the government of these monasteries was 
very strict, and is given in detail by St. Jerome, 2 and may 
be read by such as wish to study more intimately the life 
of this heroic matron, Paula. 

St. Jerome states, first, the number of monasteries 
erected by St. Paula as four, and a guest-house for pilgrims. 

1 Epist. 27. 2 Ibid. 10. 



One of these monasteries she gave up to men, as well as its 
government, and some affirm that it was here that our 
glorious Father dwelt. From this is gathered that Paula 
was a very wealthy lady, for, despite that she left her 
daughters and son in Rome well provided for, she yet had 
sufficient left for her to undertake long voyages to Beth- 
lehem and erect all these buildings. I do not find any 
proof of the truth of the statement that Jerome lived in 
the monastery for men built by Paula, although it was 
undoubtedly under his government. Moreover, it is most 
certain that St. Jerome himself erected a monastery with 
his own means, and with the patrimony which he inherited 
from his parents, and that he lived in it all the rest of his 
life. This he clearly states in the Epistle to Pammachius, 1 
addressed to him on the occasion of the death of his wife, 
where he says at the end : " We in this province have 
erected a monastery, and another house as guest-house, 
lest Mary and Joseph should come to Bethlehem and not 
find a house to receive them. From all the provinces of 
the world we are combated by so many companies of 
monks that we cannot abandon the commenced erection, 
nor have we the means to proceed with it ; and whereas it 
has happened to us as the Scriptures say, that we did not 
well consider the cost of the tower we wished to erect, it has 
become imperative to send our brother Paulinian to our 
country in order to sell the hamlets, towns, and landed 
properties which were left to us by our parents, and which 
may have escaped the hands of the barbarians, who have 
half-burnt them out, so that the holy work be not left by 
us unfinished, and thus become the scorn of evil men." 

From this is manifest that our saintly doctor founded 
and erected one with his own patrimony and that of his 
brother. And it will be well, before descending to details, 

1 Epist. 26. 


to see in common what life he led, the time he continued 
there, for he was absent sometimes, although but for a 
short period each time. During the time Paula and her 
daughter Eustochium occupied their small dwelling, St. 
Jerome resided in a smaller, narrower one. Here he 
dwelt with his brother Paulinian, conversing day and night 
with God, reading the holy Scriptures, pondering over it, 
investigating its mysteries, exercising themselves in 
prayer, spending whole nights in it, performing works 
befitting great servants of God, and in every way renew- 
ing the monastic life, vigorous, rough, and altogether 
opposed to that of the flesh, yet most sweet and of divine 
flavour to the spirit. One cannot desist from admiring the 
great virtue and sanctity of Paulinian. As a boy, nay, still 
quite a child, he came to be under the care of his brother, 
who was ever to him a father, tutor, and master, and we 
may justly say he never saw the world, nor did he know 
what it was, for he was so subject all his life to St. 
Jerome, what else could he be but an angel ? And we 
do not read, nor is it surmised that he ever caused him 
the smallest displeasure, either as boy, man, or when in the 
position of a .priest, which is a great deal to say of brothers, 
since it is usual for them, even if they love each other 
dearly, at times to have disagreements. Here we can 
contemplate Jerome as in his centre, in the refined enjoy- 
ment of the objects of his affection, his tender love for 
the crib, his joy at being close to that celestial cave, he 
could not contain within himself the unspeakable delight 
he experienced. Then, when he turned his eyes to his 
past life, to that bustle and tumult of Rome, that press of 
business which depended on him, the many and varied 
conditions of persons he had to attend to, he would 
tremble at the dangerous pass he had had to traverse, and 
lifting up his hands to heaven, and his heart too, he would 


return thanks to the Lord Who\ nad delivered him from 
so confused a Babylon ! When he bent down his eyes to 
contemplate the crib, there would £e no tenderness nor 
delight in the world which could equaUhat which his soul 
felt. From this arose that continual reF embrance > which 
he makes in all his writings, of the crib and tbe cave > °i 
Mary and the Infant, of Joseph, the shepl> erds ' tbe star > 
and the magi — these are his thoughts, these nj s desires and 
yearnings, for the soul is ever more fixed wh^ re ll i° ves 
than where it dwells. With this food did he sustain ms 
life, on that hay and straw did he pasture. OH% saintly 
sheep ! which ever finds the manger full, becaii se tne 
pasture which was once placed there possesses"? suc b 
plenitude of graces, such an abundance of gifts, that $$ ae 
need hunger who feeds on It. The Lord Himself 
said it : " / am the door ; by me, if any man enter in, 
shall be saved; and he shall go in and out, and shall find 
pastures." x It was through this door that he entered into 
the divine secrets, lifting himself above this mortal life 
in contemplation and in the participation of the hidden 
mysteries of the union of the Word with man and with the 
flesh. At this entrance he would see his salvation and his 
remedy, the true liberty and the greatly desired peace, 
not according to flesh and blood, but that of the spirit, 
which the world cannot give. Going in and coming out, 
a freedom which is not hampered by Pharaoh, because if 
the Son truly gives liberty, truly will he be free in spirit 
and in truth, a thing which the servant cannot give. To 
find pasture, by which to support life, is a proof and sign of 
a sovereign providence, and such as the life is, such also 
is the food ; and such did Jerome find in the crib. Oh, 
life of a saint ! How few they are who know it, how few 
find it, how few seek it, although so manifest that it is 

1 John x. 9. 


found in a porch and in £ cr jb I It was there that Jerome 
found it, because he s^d ; n his heart : "Man, when he was 
in honour and glory^ did not understand: he hath been 
compared to senselft s beasts, and is become like to them, 1 
through wishing /to equ al himself with God. Now, God 
makes Himself t h e food of sheep, in order that they 
should find w^h humility what they had lost through 
pride." • 

Such we re t he delights, and this the life of the saint ; 
day and njght does he treat upon this, and yet he thinks it 
is tepidly ( anc j t hat he does not do what he ought. In the 
Proern f Book II. of his Commentaries upon the Epistle to 
the Gphesians, writing to Paula and Eustochium, he says : 
" Iji virtue of your prayers I start a beginning of the 

Zcond book to send to Rome as a small gift. Not that it 
ould be read, no indeed ! by the senate of doctors, nor that 
it should be placed in the old library along with the works 
of the ancients, but simply because our saintly Marcella 
urged me to hurry on with the work. How often is she 
in my memory ! I bear in mind her solicitudes and her 
desires, and as often do I condemn my own tepidity and 
my slothfulness, because being as I am all in solitude, and 
in the enjoyment of this monastic peace, and having before 
me the crib at which, coming in haste, the shepherds 
adored the weeping Child, I am not able to do that which 
a noble woman, in the midst of the noise of her family and 
the cares of her household, knows how to effect in its 
proper time and at appointed hours ! " 

Jerome was in an extreme degree a lover of solitude, 
and of the fields, and, withdrawing himself to his little 
cell, he never lost the good habits of the monk and of 
that early life of the desert. Often does he refer to them 
in his writings to Theophilus, St. Augustine, to Rufinus 

1 Psalm xlix. 


and others ; and unless the many needs of the government 
of his monks or the presence of guests brought him out, 
he always retained his loved solitude. It was in solitude 
that he gathered together those treasures with which he 
enriched the Church by his writings and prayer; it was there 
that he enjoyed the delightful moments of contemplation. 
Replying to Vigilantius, he employs the following words 
towards the end of the book : * " Virtue is a rare thing : 
it is attained by few, and would to God all should be like 
to these few, of whom it is said, many are called and few 
are chosen, because very soon should we see prisons empty. 
The monk has not the office of doctor, but of weeper, 
because to him belongs the duty of weeping for himself 
and for all the world, and he is with fear awaiting the 
coming of the Lord. Such a one, because he knows his 
weakness, and how fragile is the vessel he carries within 
him, fears to meet stumbling-blocks, lest he should fall and 
break it. From this it comes that he shuts himself up, 
guarding his eyes, and withdrawing from all things to 
such a degree that even what is safe he fears. For 
what reason, you will ask me, do you retire into solitude ? 
I will answer. That I do so in order that I may not be 
seen or heard, in order that I may not have to suffer your 
contentions, that I may avoid the eyes of the bold resting 
on me, or the wantonness of beautiful forms agitating my 
thoughts. You will rejoin at once — this is not fighting, 
it is flying away like a coward ! Do not fly, keep to 
your post, form with your arms a bulwark against the 
enemy, so that, when you shall have conquered, you may 
be crowned. Now listen, Vigilantius. If I fly away, I 
remain free, I shall escape the sword. If I stand and wait, 
I must needs do either thing. I must conquer, or remain 
stricken down on the battlefield ; therefore, who is it that 

1 Contra Vig. 


can force me to put aside the certain for a doubtful issue ? 
Either with my shield or with my feet must I escape from 
death. You who fight may conquer or be conquered. 
Small security is there in sleeping close to a serpent. It 
may not bite me, but it may also at some time or another 
sting me to death." It was this fear that made St. Jerome 
withdraw and enclose himself. It is for this reason 
that he invites from that crib. And this example induced 
many to come to him from all parts of the world, to imitate 
him, and place themselves beneath his discipline in these 
holy places, forsaking country, parents, and all the com- 
forts of the world. During the first years of the sojourn 
here they were housed the best way they could ; in that 
poverty and want of all comfort they lived contented, until 
Jerome and Paula erected the monasteries and guest-house 
wherein those resorting there could be entertained as in 
a monastery. 

The holy doctor followed another exercise, by which he 
has shown us how deeply rooted humility was in his soul. 
All pilgrims and guests who resorted to Bethlehem (and 
they were many) had him to wash their feet. A great 
work indeed, but greater the virtue, and greater still his 
merit. A labour indeed worthy of so great a saint, a 
labour sprung from a faith which in truth was not dormant. 
Who would have said that so grave a doctor, intellectually 
occupied in such deep subjects, elevated to the most excellent 
degree in the sacred letters, should abase himself to so 
low a work ? This most certainly would not be said of 
those who seek the study of the science of theology for 
lesser ends than those which the title and profession teach. 
Jerome had learned this in the sacred Scriptures; thus it was 
that the crib was teaching him. This thing did he practise 
in Bethlehem. This comes of living in the Holy Land — the 
imitation of the life of One Who by His example left it 


sanctified, for He did not order us, when He washed the 
feet of the disciples, that we should go to live in the Holy 
Land, but to do what He did when He was there. This is 
declared by Jerome himself, when forced by a calumny 
raised against him by Rufinus that he had received 
kindly a priest called Paul, whom Bishop Theophilus 
had deprived of his office. He says : " Our intention and 
aim in the monastery is to exercise hospitality, and all who 
are received come to us with benign countenance, for we 
fear lest Mary and Joseph should not find a shelter in our 
hospice, and then Jesus being cast out should address us in 
these words : I was a stranger, and you received me not. It 
is solely heretics we do not receive, and these are alone 
those you receive. Our whole solicitude is to wash the 
feet of all those who resort to us, but not to examine their 

This exercise was very proper to such a saint, for it 
sprang from the profound consideration of what had been 
practised by the One only Master. It has been said by 
saints, and in truth with great sanctity, that it was not 
only an example, but that it was a sacrament. An 
example it was, wherein He manifested His love, and gave 
us the three proofs which are to be found in love, because 
He not only washed the feet of His friends, but even of 
those who, bereft of discretion, persist in not wishing to 
be healed of their evils. Yet the proof does not end here, 
for He also washed the feet of the enemy, even of him, 
who at the very moment of His washing them, was actually 
deliberating in his heart how he could carry out the sale and 
treachery of His betrayal. This is the example, and thus 
does He ordain we should do and serve Him, for our 
service is profitable to our friend, to the impertinent, to 
the enemy, from the lowest to the highest office, whether 
he be humble, or whether he be great. It was the sacra- 


ment which Peter did not comprehend then, though as for 
the example all present understood it. He who is clean has 
no need that his head and hands be washed, but only his 
feet, for none can be called clean who has his head, face, 
and hands soiled. To have the feet clean and washed by 
the hands of Christ was a great sacrament, which was not 
understood by Peter until he saw it carried out on himself. 
All this requires more space in order to understand it 
thoroughly. Our Jerome imitates the first, leaving for its 
owner the second ; he manifests equally to all his love 
without difference, he embraces all ; and whereas, after a 
long journey, those who come on a pilgrimage are footsore 
and wounded, they have need that for their sake this 
labour of humility and comfort be exercised on them. 
Charity brings down Jerome to wash such feet ; and 
even should Judas himself come, who intended to sell him, 
this treachery would not mitigate or cool his love, for he 
would also wash him, for so it was enjoined by the Master. 
This mustering together of many religious people 
caused a goodly assortment of clever intellects to come 
together, capable of conversing and treating on grave and 
learned questions, and thus raise the standard to some- 
thing higher than the holy rusticity of the deserts. 
Jerome, by night and by day, occupied himself in 
expounding the holy Scriptures. He arranged times and 
places in which, after the completion of the divine office and 
other monastic duties, each, as it fell to him, explained and 
expounded the sacred Scriptures, more especially the 
Psalms, which were ordinarily what was most practised, 
and the melody, which was constantly on their lips. It 
was the translation of the Septuagint which was generally 
used in choir, although, as we have seen, he himself had 
made another translation from the Hebrew, but he made 
use then of the one with which all were familiar. 


We shall farther on examine and investigate whether 
the exposition of the Psalms which is circulated as his 
among his works be really so ; now, it suffices to have 
understood the common exercises followed by our saint, 
and his ordinary occupations, which, as we have seen, are 
all full of sanctity and perfection. 

2 E 


What St. Jerome effected during the First Years of his 
Residence in Bethlehem. 

Having stated what in general was the routine led by our 
saint in the ordinary way after his arrival at Bethlehem, 
and what his occupation during the course of his life, 
which in truth God granted to him to be of such length 
that of none of the doctors of the Church do we find any 
who exceeded him in years, it will be well now to descend 
to particulars, and see in detail what especial works he 
effected, according to the events of the age, for the 
common benefit of the Church. The first of the labours 
undertaken, after coming to Bethlehem, was the translation 
of the Book of Solomon, which in Hebrew is called 
Coheleth, in Greek Ecclesiastes, in Latin Concionator. In 
the original it is in the feminine gender, because the mind 
and wisdom which was in the son of David, Solomon, most 
wise king, were what formed the sum and reason of this 
book. When narrating the occupations of St. Jerome in 
Rome, we spoke of his having made that book the subject- 
matter of his discourses with the holy women he had 
instructed there, which, coming as it did from such a 
master, was of great force. He had promised Blesilla — 
who was one of those who more largely profited by his 

teaching, as was seen by her change of life — to write a 



commentary upon this book. This remained for the time 
being in abeyance, because God took her soul to heaven, 
but now he undertakes the translation from the Hebrew 
into Latin, and thus puts in writing what he had given by 
word of mouth. 

About this time, or soon after, he also wrote 
learned books against Jovinian, a heretic, whose errors 
and life corresponded. Jovinian had been first a monk, 
but finding the monastic life too rough, determined to 
leave it ; he became a priest, and his efforts were directed 
to amassing a great fortune. In order to colour his 
wretched aims and maintain his apostasy, despite that he 
was neither learned nor eloquent, he was minded to 
become a master, and thus teach a doctrine very much 
out of his own head, and like to his wickedness. Among 
a number of absurdities, which were pointed out by St. 
Augustine, St. Jerome, and others, was the one that the 
married life was not of less merit than virginity ; also that 
it was of no consequence to fast or not to fast, to live 
luxuriously or to abstain, and other things similar, very 
proper to such as renounce their religious habit, and from 
that exalted state fall into the abyss of great evils ; hence 
it is quite just that the whole world should detest these 
bad people. In Rome he found some to follow his evil 
doctrine, but these were a few of low condition, and 
some other monks like himself. His graver followers 
were Felix, Plotinus, Genial, Martial, and others ; these, 
along with their master, proceeded to spread the poison 
throughout Rome, which took effect on weak characters, 
women of loose lives, and lawless people. The friends of 
St. Jerome wrote to him, and gave him an account of all 
that was passing, sending him the book of these doctrines, in 
order that he should refute these errors, reply to him, and 
undo his malice. Rome had not forgotten her Jerome, 


and in her distress seeks him, and from the cave of 
Bethlehem demands of him to enlighten and defend her 
with his pen and doctrine. Our great Father did so, and 
with so much eloquence and speed that it seemed like a 
flash of lightning which had come forth from the East and 
appeared in the West. And whereas this was the first 
work which on this second visit he was sending to Rome 
from the Holy Land, he manifested in it great erudition, 
genius, subtlety, and eloquence. Had it occurred that no 
other memorial of St. Jerome would have remained to us 
but this one book, it would amply suffice to make known 
to us who Jerome was, and prove whether he merited to 
hold a first place in the ranks of sacred and profane writers. 
To such of my readers as may think I go too far, I pray 
him to read the work carefully, and he will acknowledge 
that I fall short of the truth. 

On the arrival of these books in Rome, I am unable to 
say whether it took place before Pope Siricius or Ursinus 
(both these names being used by authors) had convened a 
council in the same city, or after doing so. I myself think 
it was previously, and that, when the Pope had seen these 
books, he greatly marvelled at so high a doctrine, and he 
gathered together all the prelates he could, who numbered 
eighty, and condemned the heretic and his followers, and 
cast them out of Rome. From thence they went on to 
Milan, from which, by mandate of the Pope, they were in 
like manner cast out, as appears by an epistle of the same 
pontiff. They then passed on to Africa, and spread their 
poison there, their poison being more deadly than that of 
the serpents of Libya, and there also was gathered against 
them the Council of Telus. By that council they were 
also condemned, notice being given to Pope Siricius, to 
whom they wrote a letter, wherein, among other things, 
it was declared that they were, with their evil sect, 


subverting the order of the Church, removing good works 
and merits, and regretting that they had formerly fasted, 
giving themselves up to the delights of the table and a 
life of pleasure. The holy doctor, at the commencement 
of his book, calls them Christian Epicureans, wishing to 
join Christ with Epicurus, a thing more difficult than to 
join hell with heaven. When the book arrived in Rome 
it was perused with great applause by all friends, as also 
by others who were well disposed towards the Church, 
being well grounded in the faith and good customs. 
There were others, however, who were not so clean of 
the pest, and those who still bore a long-standing ill-will 
against Jerome — all these read and examined the work, 
not in order to profit their souls, but for what they could 
find fault with and calumniate. These evilly disposed spirits 
turn all things into venom ! The greatest calumny they 
could invent against him was to say that, wishing over 
much to enhance the state of virginity, he had cast to the 
ground the state of matrimony, even to the point of seem- 
ing to condemn it. On this subject Pammachius, when 
advising him of the calumny brought against him, wrote 
an epistle beseeching Jerome to reply categorically and 
exonerate himself. This the saint did, and with his usual 
force and accustomed elegance clearly manifested the 
meaning of his own words. Among other skilful reasons 
he, in the first lines, says as follows : " If I remember 
rightly, the question between Jovinian and ourselves 
consists in that he equals virginity to matrimony, and we 
make the latter much inferior to it. He says the difference 
is small or none, and we that it is very great. Finally, it 
was on this point that Jovinian was condemned through 
your skill after God, because he dared to equal matrimony 
to the state of perpetual virginity." Let these last words 
be carefully observed, perpetual virginity, which is nothing 


else but virginity under vow. It also seems very clear by 
these words of our saint that, when he wrote the Apologia. 
in defence of his book, Pope Siricius had already held the 
council against the heretic, and that Pammachius had taken 
a large part in this, viz. that of soliciting Jerome to write 
against Jovinian, and had obtained his reply, and had pre- 
sented it to the Pope. The learned doctor at once adds : 
" This is certain, that between the sentence of Jovinian 
and mine there is no middle term, hence it stands thus, 
either this or that has to be followed. If I am repre- 
hended because I make matrimony inferior to virginity, 
let him be praised who equals them. And, if he is already 
condemned because he judged they ran together, his own 
condemnation is the approbation of my book. Had men of 
the world and of our own time grown angry with me because 
I placed them lower in the scale than the virgins, I would 
not have been surprised ; but it is to me most certainly a 
novelty that priests and nuns, and others practising con- 
tinency, should not praise the very state they live in." 

I would like to transcribe here more out of these 
books, not so much with the object of convincing the 
heretics of these times, who have endeavoured to draw out 
from the pit of hell these same errors which the Church had 
laid and buried there so long ago (for this was done very 
learnedly by others), but that in our own tongue should 
be made manifest the great erudition of our saint, but I 
fear to obscure it by my pen. 

After this letter from his friend Pammachius, Jerome 
received another similar one with the same advices and on 
the same case from another great friend, called Damian. 
He informed him that a certain monk, who undoubtedly 
had been tainted with the leprosy of Jovinian, and was 
gratified with the doctrine of a licentious life, had also set 
many objections to the book of the saintly doctor, passing 


as a learned man among a certain class of women and the 
lower ranks of men. 

These were the first labours that came forth from the 
cave of the crib performed by St. Jerome, and upon a very- 
apposite occasion. The first was the art and the doctrine of 
the renunciation of the world, the knowledge and disillusion 
of its vanity. The second, the defence of virginity and its 
pre-eminence and loftiness; the defence, also, of holy 
fastings and works of perfection. 

These were his exercises. His desire was that all 
should be proved in them, and be found true in each and 
all of them. He could not brook that any man should 
attempt to hurl them down from their position, and so 
they should understand that, placed in the porch of 
Bethlehem as he was, and like to a lion of the tribe of 
Juda, he must needs roar lustily against the heretics, and 
similarly to a fountain and cistern of most delicious waters, 
be the drink and refreshment of the pious and of the 





According as it is recorded by Plato in his Dialogues, 
Socrates used to say x that he delighted in the conversation 
of the aged and to confer with them. The reason he 
gave, which in truth is a very good one, was as follows : 
" If I am obliged to follow a road, it is of importance to 
know its conditions from such as have already gone that 
way ; whether it be a good or bad one, a difficult pass or 
easy, what perils and dangers may have to be met with, 
and learn from the old men what their experience has been, 
in order to profit from it, hence how can we spend time 
better than in listening to their narrative ? " Nor is this 
knowledge to be sought for indiscriminately from any old 
man. Some there are (according as Plato depicts them to 
us) who are not old but in years ; all else, which by the 
name of old is implied, is new, their appetites are green as 
that of boys, and they have no other feeling in that age, 
nor any experience, but the regret of seeing themselves 
impotent for enjoying the pleasures and delights of their 
youth. But the question aforesaid must needs be asked of 
such old men who, after a course of a well-ordered life and 
maturity of judgment, were able to appreciate and perceive 
the difficulties of the journey, the dangers to be me^t with, 
the easy entrance, the doubtful turns, and learn the course 
they steered to keep clear of so many difficulties, and come 

1 Plat. Dial, de Jus to, i. 


forth loaded with spoils, victories, and crowns, by sheer 
virtue and prudence. Our Jerome had arrived at the sixth 
age in man. It is from this number that it took its name, 
being called the Senario of the Ages or, as others have it, 
Senectus, through the deficiency of that virtue or manly 
vigour which up to that age they had preserved. But no 
such thing will be said of St. Jerome, because, if up to this 
he has lived forty-nine years of his life, and now enters 
into his fiftieth, and this period lasts seven years, that is to 
say, until fifty-six or fifty-seven, he has been most diligent 
in labouring and serving the Church with extreme care, 
without ceasing to exercise himself in acquiring virtues, no 
less shall we see him in the future avoiding idleness. 

To old men is applied the humiliating expression that 
they are in their second childhood, because at this period 
they are supposed to return to what they were as infants, 
not only as regards the conditions of the body, childish and 
weak, but also as regards the state of the soul. We shall 
not see this fulfilled in Jerome ; because even when he has 
entered the age of decrepitude, we shall find him robust 
and clear, as during the former course of his life. In him, 
in a certain sense, the truth will be verified that he will 
become a boy again, because on entering this period of old 
age he will not disdain still to learn, and again to seek 
masters. In this he desires ever to be youthful and a boy, 
ever going forward, if anything offers itself to be learned. 
The contrary is what is usually done by the advanced in 
age ; it seems to them that age is a quittance of all ignorance, 
and that with the authority of grey hair, without anything 
further, they are competent to afford a solution to whatever 
is asked of them. It is such as these that the Holy Spirit 
curses, to whom is addressed these words : " Cursed be the 
boy of a hundred years, for at the end of that time he has 
no more principle in his heart nor has he acquired more 

PROEM 429 

in his understanding than a child, restless and empty." 
The best food for old age is the labour of youth ; those 
who would not work in their day, now they die of hunger, 
like the sluggard who would not work in the summer on 
account of the heat, nor in the winter time by reason of the 
cold. Jerome loses no time. He might well now enjoy 
that which with so much labour he had sown and gathered ; 
yet not satisfied with this, he wishes to commence anew 
and amass greater wealth, not indeed for his more advanced 
age, but to enrich his sons. 

The age of forty-nine is a marked one in the scale of 
life, and a perilous pass among the climacterics, because 
then is joined together seven sevens — a week of years. 
During this period or age, our great doctor intends enter- 
ing into a new phase of his life, and begins, as it were, to 
ascend the ladder with redoubled courage, since there still 
remains to him of life as many number of years as he had 
already passed. Jerome fully comprehends that the number 
forty-nine, although by the holy Scriptures it is celebrated 
as a jubilee, being held so after a week of weeks, which are 
seven times seven, when possessions are returned to their 
owners, and a general remission is made of debts at the 
sound of trumpets, also signifies the principal Feast 
of Pentecost, in which, after the passing of seven weeks, the 
Law was given to the people of Israel on the Mount, the 
next day being the fulfilment of the fifty, a number con- 
secrated to penance, as the doctor himself teaches us, when 
expounding the third chapter in Isaias ; and in confirmation 
brings forward for this most extraordinary passages. The 
same does he confirm in the Chapter XLI. upon Ezechiel. 
Entering into this period, Jerome purposed to take to 
penance more strictly, since the jubilee was celebrated for 
the time and years that were past, and now, on entering a 
new period, it seems to him that the tenour of the Law is 


intimated to him; for although it be the same as the natural 
law, yet as up to the time he had been robust and strong, 
nevertheless his very energy and consequent fire may have 
obscured what God had written on the Soul ; hence he 
renews the covenant which God Himself had come down to 
declare on the Mount. When a man has been neglectful 
up to the forty-ninth year of his age, during which period 
his powers and vigour had kept him energetic and assiduous, 
he has some excuse, and a jubilee may be granted him ; but 
on reaching the fifties, and entering upon this period, that 
he should not perceive the calls of God, and not weep over 
the defects of his past life, is a great evil. Aristotle says 
that in youth shame is a virtue, but not in an old man, 
because if youth with growing age may be guilty of in- 
discretions, if he be ashamed of them, it appears as a sign 
of repentance to blush on having his fault discovered ; but 
an old man should not, and must not, do aught which he 
might be ashamed of, nor has nature the flow of blood 
then with which to flush his face : he must needs be dis- 
abused as he is entering his year of jubilee, when all 
must turn to their natural Lord. This does Jerome teach 
us at this period when he is entering upon old age, if we only 
pay attentive heed, and watch and note his course of life. 


St. Jerome quits Bethlehem for Alexandria, to converse with 


How it befits saints to have lowly opinion of them- 
selves ! This virtue of humility is able to effect great 
things, when truly and without deceit it takes root in the 
heart. It appears to Jerome that there is yet time to be 
a disciple, and that there is in others a great deal to be 
learned, and that in himself there is nothing for others to 
learn, and that, if at any time he attempts to teach, it is 
because he is importuned to do so. The whole world 
holds him as a master ; to him resort men as to a flow- 
ing, powerful fountain ; meanwhile, he himself is seeking 
masters from whom to learn. In his opinion he is so far 
behind, that without regard to the fact that he inspires 
great respect, without a glance at the opinion in which he 
is held in Rome and in the whole of the West, without 
considering that his monks and his spiritual children might 
repose less confidence, and his credit be thereby diminished, 
he goes to be a listener to Didymus in Alexandria. Un- 
doubtedly this blind Didymus was very learned and 
enlightened in the sacred Scriptures ; his fame was great 
throughout the East, and he knew much. It occurred 
therefore to Jerome that it would be right and useful to 
frequent his school and place himself at his feet as his 



disciple. On this point Jerome always continued to follow 
the manner of learning which we have mentioned already 
at the beginning of the Second Book, namely seeing, 
communicating, and conversing face to face, and hearing 
the living voice, for it appeared to him that thereby there 
could be no deception, while that which is only seen written 
down suffers deception. 

Didymus was a native of Alexandria. When quite a 
boy a severe illness affected his eyes, and he became totally 
blind. St. Jerome tells us that his illness came upon him 
so early in life that he could have had no idea of the form 
and type of letters. Others say that at the time he was 
already learning grammar ; but who could know better than 
he who on purpose visited and conversed with him, as 
St. Jerome did ? And Jerome speaks and enlarges upon 
this blindness as to a miracle, that he should have had no 
knowledge of having seen letters in his life. Not only was 
Didymus remarkable as a great and keen dialectician, but 
also was so learned a mathematician that it seems on all 
counts miraculous how he was particularly clever in 
geometry, a thing which depends so largely on sight, more 
especially to beginners, and of such assistance that it seems 
utterly impossible to attain this science without sight. 
Moreover, he was a great arithmetician, for the one thing 
follows the other. As for rhetoric and the art of speaking, 
few, or none, excelled him in his time. Yet the long sight 
which God gave him in his soul, in exchange for that which 
was denied him corporally, was not circumscribed to this 
point, because he rose up with such lucidity and advantage 
to consider the divine mysteries, and elucidated so many of 
these and such hidden ones in the Old and New Testa- 
ments that he far outstripped nearly all the learned men 
of his age. That which the great Anthony, the Father of 
Hermits, said to Didymus, when he came to converse with 


him in Alexandria, is worthy of being enlarged on, for he 
found him somewhat hurt, and sad at his want of sight, but 
Anthony consoled him with these words : " Do not grieve 
and be sad, O Didymus ! at the want of sight in your eyes, 
a thing common to imperfect men and to animals, but 
rejoice that other eyes have been given you very similar to 
those of the angels, by which God is seen and contemplated 
in light divine ! " 

Oftentimes does our doctor allude to this sentence. 
Among others, he says : 1 " My Didymus' having those eyes 
which are attributed to the Spouse of the Canticles, and those 
channels of light with which our Master, Jesus Christ, bade 
His followers lift their eyes to see the harvest which was 
becoming white, looks down from the highest point and 
renews to us in himself those ancient times when the 
prophets were called seers. Whoso would read him 
will perceive in him the thefts of many of our Latins, and 
will belittle the streamlet when he commences to enjoy 
the fountain and source. He is not distinguished in 
style, but he is so in science. The former manifests 
him to be an apostolic man, both in the clearness of the 
sense and in the simplicity of his words." Didymus wrote 
many works, as appears in the catalogue which our saint 
made of them in his work on Illustrious Masters, many 
commentaries upon the sacred Scriptures, and merits from 
them an everlasting name. 

Jerome quitted Bethlehem in order to seek out and con- 
verse with Didymus, proceeding to Alexandria at the age 
above mentioned, and at the time that grey hair covered 
his head. He communicated his doubts to Didymus ; 
he penetrated his manner of expounding theology ; he re- 
cognised in the man a lofty genius ; he learned from him 
many things he had not yet attained ; he drew from him 

1 Ad Paulinianum fratrem, in Proaemio, lib. De Spirttu Sancto. 

2 F 


many secrets : it was in truth a journey of great profit. 
St. Jerome, writing to his two friends Pammachius and 
Oceanus, confesses it in his epistle to them, where he says : 
" My hair was already grey, and from my age it were more 
proper to be a master than a disciple, nevertheless I 
departed for Alexandria, and constituted myself a hearer of 
Didymus. I return him a thousand thanks for many 
things, and I owe him much, because I learned what I did 
not know, and what I had knowledge of I did not lose or 
forget through what he had taught me." 

It appears to me that these last words gives us to under- 
stand that many things which he had found with his genius 
tallied with what Didymus told him both extraordinary and 
excellent. I n the preface of the Commentaries on the Epistle 
to the Ephesians he confirms the above. " I have not 
ceased to read since I was young," he says, " nor have I 
ceased to ask what I did not know from learned men ; nor 
have I made myself my own master, like many others do, 
who presume thus. It was chiefly for this reason that I 
not very long ago journeyed to Alexandria to see Didymus 
and ask of him all that was a cause of doubt to me in the 
holy Scriptures." 

From these words will be clearly perceived the desire 
of this holy doctor, for, at an age when he could so 
worthily have been a master, as he himself confesses, 
yet he so earnestly assumes the form of a disciple. In 
this we have the examples of men of fame such as 
Themistocles, Cato, Solon, and others who acted similarly. 
The first said when he was at the point of death, that 
he was sorry to die because death came just at the very 
time when he was commencing to learn, and he was then 
107 years of age. The second, when over sixty began 
leisurely to learn Greek, while the last surpassed these, 
for, on being asked how long should a man continue to 


learn and be a student, he replied that he should be 
one as long as he lived. And if to these wise men we 
add a fourth — and that one Jerome — he will tell you 
with his work what the others do by words. Jerome 
never made a truce in his desires for learning. Well has 
he proved all this up to the present stage, when he is 
already grey, and still his thirst will not be slaked nor 
the wrinkles of extreme age prevent him. 

Between Didymus and Jerome there was established 
a great friendship ; the great Didymus delighted in having 
such a disciple. I believe they alternately changed places, 
and that, if Jerome made progress under Didymus, no 
less did Didymus profit by Jerome. He soon perceived 
the great genius and intellect of our saint, and he esteemed 
this great man so much that he judged him a good subject 
to whom to dedicate his works. Didymus had finished 
some very learned commentaries upon Osee, and dedicated 
them to Jerome, feeling that his labours would be blessed 
when placed under such a defender and patron ; and in truth 
it is most certainly great praise for a Latin doctor to be 
so highly esteemed by him who was considered the flower 
of the whole of Greece, furthermore Didymus was much 
older than Jerome. He was also asked by Jerome to 
make some commentaries upon Zacharias, which he did 
at his petition. 

The translation which St. Jerome was making of the 
book of Didymus, Of the Holy Ghost, for Damasus, as 
we said before, but which, owing to circumstances that 
intervened, he had put aside, he subsequently finished when 
in Bethlehem, as appears by the first words of the preface 
addressed to his brother Paulinian, to whom he dedicates 
the translation of the three books. 

After Jerome had enjoyed the company and con- 
versation of Didymus, and gathered together all he 


could, which surpassed his expectations, like a well-freighted 
ship, he returned from Alexandria to Bethlehem, loaded 
with precious information, a merchandise which time could 
not corrupt and which could not be stolen by the hands 
of pirates. He was received with great joy by Paula, 
and by all his brethren, as is the case when a dearly loved 
father returns to his children, full of great expectations of 
doubling his wealth. . 


St. Jerome seeks a Hebrew preceptor, in order to perfect 
himself in the language. 

On returning to Bethlehem, Jerome resumed his accustomed 
exercises of virtues, prayer, reading, and meditation, even 
joining to these a rigorous penance, hair shirts, fastings, 
watchings, and chastisement of the rebel flesh. All these 
were to Jerome his daily bread : it seemed to him that he 
would not be a monk, were he to neglect these exercises, 
nor should he deserve to bear such a name, if he even 
effected a truce with them. We shall continue to see in 
this saint that each time he speaks of things relating to 
religion and the monastic life, he ever sets these obligations 
to the office and state, as though native and essential to 
them. Moreover, he always keeps in mind that he is 
doctor of the Church, although as to this, in secret and 
without even perceiving it himself, he is impelled by the 
Divine Spirit, hence his thought is never outside the 
law of the Lord ; it is to this law that he withdraws in 
the secret of the night, and in the deepest and most 
profound of his thoughts naught else is treated on 
nor considered. At times he found, when engaged in 
this exercise, that it was of importance, in order to run 
more freely along in these holy studies, to have a fuller 
knowledge of the Hebrew language, and that there should 



be no excellence which he could not attain, or be 
ignorant of, and that to this greater knowledge of Hebrew 
should be added, with advantage, the study of Chaldaic, 
on account of its nearness to it, and because there are 
many books in the sacred Scriptures which partake very 
largely of this mixture of both languages. But this 
knowledge is not sufficient even so, nor are all the 
difficulties solved by this study of the tongues, for it is 
also necessary to join to these a knowledge of the history, 
antiquity, customs, traditions of that ancient people, and 
their rites, and that of other races with whom they mixed 
and communicated, whether through captivity or by per- 
mission. To learn their familiar intercourse, policy, mode 
of government, and all else that is proper to a nation, 
for otherwise, without this knowledge and care, great 
errors creep in, when speaking incautiously of the holy 
books, as we clearly perceive when we examine the many 
differences which exist between ourselves and the natives 
of Africa, or between the Christian republic and that of 
the Turks, or between the Spanish and the Arab races. 
There are infinite allusions to this in the sacred Scriptures, 
by reason of which we stumble at every step. Jerome per- 
ceived this deficiency ; he was minded to effect a remedy 
by making himself conversant with all these studies. For 
this end he sought a Hebrew by nation, who should be 
among that people considered learned in the law, to 
instruct him in what he desires to know. He wanted 
to hear from him the manner of expounding Scripture, 
and proceed carefully, noting all particulars, which things 
being what they were could not be known by one not 
reared among them. I feel confident that this was an in- 
spiration from God, in order that His Church should possess 
in Jerome all that on this score might yet be wanting 
to her, at least as much as sufficed to give light, and sense 


to open the eyes of the minds of those who would 
subsequently follow, and thus be able to know how to 
seek and carry to a conclusion all that in the things of 
this kind should still require investigation, and which 
it was not possible for our saint to carry out. Origen 
likewise adverted to this labour, who was a man of 
great genius, and laborious, and he even sought for Hebrew 
masters, both for the language and for what I have mentioned 
above ; but his diligence, however, was of small fruit, 
since his dogmas and doctrines, set on wrong foundations 
and perverse aims, erased what there was of good in 
relation to the exposition of the Scriptures, as well 
as by employing over much allegory he was unable to 
discover truly the force of the letter and the marrow 
of the Scriptures, for the aim of the spirit is not attained 
properly without the study of the plain facts of history 
and the coherence of the letter. 

St. Jerome, following out this idea, sought for and 
found a Jew, by name Barahanina, or Barrabino, who, it 
is supposed, dwelt in Jerusalem, and obtained, at a heavy 
price, that he should teach him what he knew of Hebrew, 
and his knowledge of the traditions of his teachers. The 
Jew was greatly moved to do this by the high price 
offered, for the Jews are by nature covetous, and also from 
witnessing in St. Jerome a great desire and interest 
in all that appertained to the Jewish law, although he 
was not aware why Jerome so greatly desired this. On 
the other hand, the Jew ran a great risk and danger from 
those of his own nation and parentage, because it is 
forbidden to their race, under heavy penalties, to commune 
with the Christians, or teach them the secrets of the law. 
This Hebrew knew not what to do : cupidity was felt on 
both sides, that of the Jew on account of gain, and Jerome, 
who burned with the desire at any price to learn these 


secrets, which fact decided the question, and it was arranged 
that the Rabbi should come secretly, and by night, to give 
Jerome his lesson : in this way the danger to the one 
was averted, and the desire of the other fulfilled. All 
this knowledge held by the Jew he very well knew how 
to enhance and sell at a great price. Jerome did not 
object to give him all he could, because the treasures of 
earth, compared to the science of the Scriptures, bear 
no proportion whatever. This statement our saint has 
made oftentimes, although in brief words. When writing 
to Pammachius and Oceanus, after narrating the journey 
he had taken to Alexandria, he says as follows : " Men 
had judged I had ceased to be a disciple and a student. 
That in me had ceased the desire of learning, yet on my 
return to Jerusalem from Alexandria, and from Jerusalem 
to Bethlehem, God knows with how much labour, and 
even at what a price, it cost me to possess as preceptor 
the Jew Barahanina, who came to me in the night time, 
and through fear of the Jews resorted to me at those hours, 
and who fancied himself to be another new Nicodemus." 
From this is understood how far from reason was Rufinus, 
and how full of malice he was in reprehending St. Jerome 
for an act which brought so much advantage to the Church, 
that of studying these subjects so thoroughly and fully 
in the Hebrew tongue itself, and for seeking preceptors to 
enlighten him, buying, so to say, that knowledge because 
it was on sale. 

To Rufinus it appeared that St. Jerome committed a 
kind of sacrilege in doing this, and he makes a puerile 
allusion to Barahanina and Barabbas by saying that our 
doctor was like to the Jews, who, when Pilate gave the 
choice between Jesus and Barabbas at the Passover, 
chose Barabbas and denied Christ, that in this way had 
Jerome acted. But in quite another manner did the 


Church judge Jerome, and the effect demonstrated it, as it 
has been clearly proved by those who so largely have 
profited by his pious labours. Many, even in our day, 
act in a similar manner, for, on finding that some one 
attains to the knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, they at 
once suspect him of denying Jesus Christ for Barabbas, an 
idea worthy only of ignorant men. Jerome took no heed 
of this calumny : he simply replied to it as a thing worthy 
of laughter, and in the Apologia addressed to Rufinus he 
tells him :* "I have heard it said of the epistle I addressed 
to Rome, that you picked out some things, in order to 
philosophise against me, and that, like a grave man 
and a thinker, you judge and speak witticisms like 
another Plautus, because I said that Barrabino, a Jew, 
was my preceptor. And I do not marvel that, when there 
is an allusion to the names Barahanina and Barabbas, 
you should have written Barabbas, since it is common 
to you in these similarities of names to take such licence 
that from Eusebius you make a travesty into Pampkilius 
and from martyr, heretic ; from which I perceive that 
it becomes needful to equal oneself to you, and it behoves 
me greatly to keep as far as possible from you, because 
during the space of time required for reciting two creeds, 
without my knowing how or when, you might make out of 
Jerome, Sardanapalus." 

And in order the better to understand the feeling and 
intention which urged our saintly doctor to study the 
things of the Hebrews, and what were the things he ever 
wanted to learn from them, and what was the advantage 
he sought thereby to gain for the Church, let us linger to 
hear from him in a few brief words a declaration of his 
intentions and thoughts. In the already quoted epistle 
to Pammachius he added these words : " If by any reason 

1 Apolog. lib. i. c. 3. 


it may be permissible to abhor any kind of men, and 
abominate any nation, I confess that I have a particular 
hatred against the Jews, because up to the present day 
they persecute Jesus Christ in their synagogues." And 
when expounding those words of Isaias, 1 " Thus saith the 
Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to the Soul that 
is despised," he declares that these words fitted the person 
of Christ, because like a good shepherd He laid down His 
life and His soul for His sheep, and for their sakes 
despised it : and this is an abomination to the Jews, and 
thus they meet together three times daily in their 
synagogues to curse His name under the name of 

The Jews were well aware that their great evils and 
fall came to them from the death of Christ, and, instead 
of opening their eyes under the chastisement, they hardened 
themselves and became worse, as Pharaoh did in former 
times : and in this same blindness do they continue, and 
will continue, until it shall please God to fulfil what, through 
His Holy Prophets and Apostles, He has promised — to 
open their eyes, in order that they should know that which 
for so long they had waited, and Him whom, when they had 
Him in their own hands, they had reprobated ; and let not 
their gain be our own fall, a thing we have greatly to fear. 
They being native branches, 2 God broke them down, for their 
infidelity, from the trunk in order to engraft us therein. For, 
if God hath not spared the natural branches, beware lest 
He also spare thee not. For, if thou wert cut out of the 
olive tree which is natural to thee, and contrary to nature 
wert grafted into the good olive tree, how much more 
shall they that are the natural branches be grafted into 
their own olive tree ? And may His Divine Majesty not 
punish us by reason of our own pride, on our falling into 

1 Isaias, c. 49. v. 7. 2 Romans xi. 


the same blindness, who pride ourselves upon bearing 
the name of faithful, despising all others. These words 
convey the teaching of the doctor of the Gentiles, to 
make us humble, and lower us from our own haughtiness, 
which even in the early days of St. Jerome had already 
become manifest. 

And if this be doubted, let us turn our eyes around 
us, and take warning from the many examples we have 
daily before us from Jerusalem to Spain. Every time 
that I look upon this incredulous race spread throughout 
the world — for in truth there is no race under the sun 
which is so extended — without laws, without king, without 
priests, without nation, slaves, affronted, odious and 
infamous, it seems to me a general warning of God to 
all the world placed before our eyes by Him in order 
that in them we should read the truth that with Him 
there is no accepting of persons. The sons of saintly 
parents, who were so beloved of God, and with whom 
alone He spoke, and conversed, and treated for little 
less than five thousand years, yet notwithstanding all this 
He keeps them in due servitude for so many centuries, 
so withdrawn from Himself and so cast in oblivion that 
there is scarcely a nation which more gravely offends God, 
nor one which, as a consequence, God chastises so deeply 
for being His enemies. 

For the love of God let us open our eyes, and let us 
be warned by their blindness. All this has our saint made 
us say, explaining what his own feelings were in regard to 
this wretched people, and what his motives were for wish- 
ing to study their secrets so carefully. St. Jerome did not 
hold them as teachers who were so much his enemies. He 
learned from them the manner of defending himself against 
themselves, and grasped their own weapons in order, with 
these said arms, to cut them down. This same avaricious 


Barahanina, conquered by love of greed, broke his very 
laws : and had this been made known, he would un- 
doubtedly have been put to death, in accordance with 
these same laws. Both the Jew and the saint took ad- 
vantage of the darkness of the night, the Jew to clutch at 
the money safely, the saint to draw light for his own labours, 
hence he adds : " Right well could I have quoted in 
that letter Gregory Nazianzen, a most eloquent writer, 
who, among the Latins, has no equal, of which master I take 
pride and rejoice : but I only named those who had some 
note, in order to signify thereby that, if I do read Origen, 
it is' not on account of the purity and truth of his faith, but 
on account of the great erudition which is found in him. 
And this same Origen, and Clement, Eusebius, and many 
others, when they discuss or treat upon the Scriptures, 
and wish to prove what they say, use these expressions : 
This was referred to me by a Hebrew — / heard this from 
a Hebrew — This is the sentence of the Hebrews!' 

What we have said suffices for our intention. Whoever 
should wish to enter further on this point of the Hebrew 
interpretations, let him read over the preface of the 
Exposition of the Lamentations of Jeremias by St. Jerome, 
as this discourse would otherwise exceed its proper 


On some of the Pious Labours which St. Jerome undertook 
from the Hebrew to enrich the Church. 

St. Jerome did not rest satisfied with what learning he had 
attained from the study and acquisition of the languages 
which, at the cost of so much labour and expense, he had 
learned. Whereas in the holy Scriptures there were 
some books written in the language of Chaldea, such as 
the books of Daniel, Esdras, Judith, his friends gave him 
no peace in their importunities until he translated them 
into Latin, and he undertook this work, which necessitated 
the study of Chaldean, a labour that he himself calls great, 
for it was the study not of what is called Syro-chaldaic, 
which is the common language of Palestine, and the one 
consecrated by our Lord, His Holy Mother, and the 
apostolic college, by employing and conversing in it, but 
the ancient one of Babylon, in which these aforesaid books 
were written, as well as a large portion of the Targum, 
which is the Chaldean Paraphrase of Jonas and Onkelos. 
It is true to say that the common Syriac draws from this 
its origin, but greatly declining from its beginning, as 
occurs in the others. In the prologue on Tobias the saint 
tells us that, when he made the translation, some one would 
translate the words into Hebrew, and from Hebrew he 
himself would then turn them into Latin. In the prologue 



on Daniel, St. Jerome enlarges on the labour that this cost 
him, and expresses himself in these terms : " You must 
know that Daniel, more especially, and Esdras, and a part 
of Jeremias, although written in Hebrew characters, yet 
are in the Chaldean tongue. Job also bears a great 
similarity to the Aramaic language. When I was a youth, 
after lessons on Quinctilian and Cicero, and the study of the 
flowers of rhetoric, I would withdraw to pursue the study of 
the Hebrew tongue, and it was only after many days of great 
labour that I barely attained to sound the words, which 
have to be uttered with clenched teeth and gasping efforts, 
like one who proceeds along a darksome cave, and just in 
the far distance merely descries a tiny gleam of light. At 
length I fell upon Daniel, and then came over me such 
great despondency and sorrow that, assailed by a sudden 
despair, I felt impelled to throw up the work and lose the 
fruit of my past labours. But I was admonished by a Jew 
not to do so, and oftentimes did he tell me in his Hebrew 
tongue: Continued labour overcomes everything; I, then, 
who among the Hebrews believed I knew something, 
became a student of the Chaldean. And I will state the 
truth, even to this day I read and understand it better than 
I can pronounce it. I have stated all this that you may 
understand the great difficulty that Daniel presented." 

From this I infer that the saint had studied the 
Chaldean language in his early years when in the desert ; 
although he studied it when already advanced in the 
knowledge of Hebrew, and thus it has to be done, since 
Hebrew is, as it were, the principle of the other. 

Among the other great treasures which Jerome be- 
queathed to the Church (besides many others which time 
has consumed) there are three existing still, which were 
the fruits of these labours in the aforesaid languages. 
The first is On the Hebraic Questions, or Hebrew Transla- 


tions. In this work he tries to manifest the variations in 
the translation which in his time was called the Vulgate, 
that is to say, of the Septuagint, in the manner already 
stated by me, and which we shall also see from his own 
words, from the Hebrew text, and afterwards arrange the 
discordance and unravel the difficulties which result from 
this difference. 

Let us listen to his own version. In the proem to this 
book of his he says as follows : "I earnestly beseech the 
reader (should there be any one to read this with pleasure) 
not to seek in the books On the Hebraic Questions, which I 
have attempted to write on all the sacred text, elegancies 
nor subtlety of oratory, but rather to give answer for me to 
my adversaries to pardon in this the novelty of the work." 
Then farther on he adds : " What I pretend in this is to 
undo the errors of those who think that in the Hebrew text 
there is a variation as regards what is less clear and perfect 
in the Latin and Greek books, and to reduce it to its native 
purity, and declare in passing the etymology of the things 
and of the names of the regions which in our own tongue 
do not sound as in the original, and their reason in the Latin 
language ; and to the end that with greater facility these 
emendations be made known, I will set the testimonies them- 
selves first, as we now read them, so that by collating them 
with what follows it may be manifestly seen what exists, what 
may be more or what is wanting, or what is stated differently. 
I do not thereby mean, as the envious might allege, that I 
pretend to reprehend the seventy interpreters for their 
errors, nor think that this work of mine is a reproof 
on theirs, because they did not wish to reveal the 
sacraments and mysteries of the sacred Scriptures to King 
Ptolemy of Alexandria, more especially on what touched 
and was promised by the coming of Christ : so that it 
should not appear that the Jew worshipped a different god. 


This was the reason that Ptolemy held the Jews in such 
high esteem, in which, as a follower of the doctrine of 
Plato, he maintained and believed in one only God." 

This was the first work of our saint. Of this sacred 
monument there has remained nought in the works of St. 
Jerome but the questions on the book of Genesis, and those 
of the First Book of Kings, and part of the Third Book. 
Respecting these and those of the Chronicles, a suspicion 
exists that they are not the same as those he wrote, but some 
questions gathered from his own by some person who had 
made them his study. This suspicion is well founded, because 
they lack that measure of diligence observed in the first, 
and the frequent quotation from the Septuagint, which 
was the foundation for what was assumed, and the other 
translations of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotian. 
Nevertheless, they partake very much of the gravity and 
doctrine of the saint, and undoubtedly they came forth from 
his study, and as such they are held by all learned men. 

The second of these works, and the result of his study 
of languages, is the one bearing the title of Hebrew Places} 
which is in effect the catalogue of the names of cities, 
towns, castles, mountains, vineyards, rivers, and other 
particular places contained in the sacred books. In this 
work he imitates Eusebius Pamphilius, and takes many 
things from him, while leaving others aside : changing 
some and obliterating others : sometimes he translates, 
and at other times he comes forth like a new author. 
Undoubtedly it is genuinely a work of vast erudition, of 
deep knowledge and great fund of information of ancient 
things and of history. In those days there existed relics of 
good books, and many were entire, of which at the present 
day we barely even know the names. 

Following these studies came a third, of no less utility 

1 De locis Hebraicis. 


or showing less genius. This was the interpretation of the 
Hebrew names mentioned in the whole of the sacred 
Scriptures, a study which has been of great profit to all 
authors, whether Greek or Latin. I recall to mind having 
mentioned above that proper names in the Hebrew 
generally enclose some mystery, and are given by divine 
counsel, hence, for this reason, the Fathers of the Church 
have drawn many holy considerations, and been able to 
declare many difficult passages of the holy Scriptures, 
which, without a perfect knowledge of names and their 
etymology, it would have been impossible to elucidate. 
And here it would seem a fit occasion to discuss again the 
antiquity of the Hebrew language, which, with great force, 
is manifested to us to have been the first language spoken 
by men in the world, and the one in use at the Deluge ; in 
fact the only one down to the time of the Tower of Babel. 
God punished the pride of men, who, with one spirit and one 
language, pretended to make their names eternal before 
dividing themselves throughout the breadth of the lands, 
and leave there a monument of the vanity of their inherit- 
ance and antiquity. In order to rend to shreds this vain 
counsel, God confounded their tongue and the speech, 
and thus they lost their native language, which is, as has 
been said, the one that remained with the Canaanites, and 
which, later on, was called the Hebrew. And the reason 
is the one we have touched upon in the interpreta- 
tion of names. Because if, as we have seen, all, or nearly 
all, the proper names in the sacred Scriptures, which are 
written in the Hebrew tongue, or in that of Canaan (as we 
have them even at present), and have always been so, were 
taken from the verbs of that language, and are the same as 
God had given to the first men and the patriarchs, 
as is proved by deductions and etymologies which they 
alluded to at the time they were given, and as these do not 

2 G 


correspond to any other tongue, it is evident that it was 
that tongue they used and the same they spoke. 

The examples and the observations by which this has to 
be proved are without number: they are, in truth, nearly all 
the names in the divine letters, a reason being given for 
conferring the name, why it was called so, or why such a 
name was given, whether by God himself, or whether by 
man. Thus it is seen in the naming of Adam, of Eve, of 
Cain and Abel, Cham, Noe, Abraham, Sara and so forth : 
and it stands to reason that in conferring a name which 
should bear a signification to some event or intention, it 
would be very unlikely to seek for it in a strange tongue, 
but rather in its own and generally known one, so that all 
should understand. 

St. Jerome was not satisfied with solely giving us the 
interpretation of the Hebrew and Chaldean names of the 
Old Testament ; but he also examined all the Greek ones, 
and even the Arabic and Syriac ones of the New Testament. 
By these three pious and erudite monuments did St. 
Jerome enrich us, and with some lofty principles for our 
advantage and profit, if we would wish to imitate him in 
the study and knowledge of the sacred scriptures, a task 
of so much importance for the advancement of such as merit 
the name of Christian. I cannot imagine how any one can 
boast of being a Christian, and a religious, who, drawn to 
other books, which are so far different from this one, profit 
in what the name of Christian demands. Hence our great 
doctor hazards to say that he who knows not the Scriptures 
knows not Christ. And, forasmuch as one of my principal 
motives for thus writing the history of this great Father has 
been to induce in members of the religious orders the study 
of the holy Scriptures, through following his example and 
his doctrine, I wish to bring forward here a passage of his 
which may suffice to convince the understanding, and draw 


to this love the most obstinate will. In the preface of his 
Commentaries upon Isaiah he addresses thus the holy virgin 
Eustochium : "I wish to repay you the debt and satisfy the 
obligation in obedience to the precept of Christ which orders 
us to search the Scriptures, and in another place says : Seek 
and you shall find: so that I should not have to bear the 
reproach addressed to the Jews by Him : You err because 
you know not the Scriptures, nor the power of God. Hence 
if, according to the apostle St. Paul, Christ is the power of 
God, and the Wisdom of God, and he who knows not the 
Scriptures neither knows nor understands the power of 
God, nor His Wisdom, by a legitimate consequence it is 
true to say, and deduce, that to know not the Scriptures is 
to know not Christ." 

In another preface he says : " If there is any thing that 
could detain in this life a wise man, as a thing which keeps 
him in peace and even spirit in the midst of so many 
storms and great changes, in my opinion the principal and 
first reason is the meditation and knowledge of the sacred 
Scriptures. Because, as the important point in which we differ 
from the brute creation is our being rational and having the 
power of speech, and, whereas all reason and expression 
is contained in these divine books, by means of which we 
learn what God is, and we comprehend the reason why we 
were created, I marvel greatly that there should be any one 
who, either through being given up to sleep, to listlessness, 
or to idleness, does not care to engage himself in the study 
of great things, or who dares to reprehend those who are 
engaged in doing so." Under these two most efficacious 
reasons has our Jerome concluded that — he who should 
desire to know what Christ is, Who is our only good, and 
our very life, he must know this virtue and wisdom, which 
comes from God, and he who should wish to pass over 
with even mind and large heart the changes, the roaring 


waves, and the deeply dangerous encounters of this world, 
let him seek to study, meditate, and ponder over the 
sacred Scriptures. And lastly, he who should desire to 
know the only one thing that there is to know — the eternal 
word, the science, which knows no change, the reasons 
which exceed all reason, let him deliver up his soul to the 
divine books, since in no other place is it found but in 
them : here is the source found, here it is we drink from 
the actual fountain. 

Our grave doctor concludes this great Epistle to 
Paulinus 1 by expressing himself in these words: " I beseech 
you, dearly loved brother, let your life be no other than 
this, think of nothing else ; do not desire to know any 
other thing, nor seek aught else. Does it not seem that 
here below on earth you already enjoy the mansions of 
heaven ? " Oh ! how well does the saint express what his 
soul experienced ! Because in the same way as there is no 
creature who more vividly tells us what God is, nor a 
more clear mirror upon which to gaze upon Him than His 
own written word, so also is there no one thing for the 
friends of God — after God Himself — in which they can 
recreate themselves and feel so much joy as in His own 
words. The delight they experience in this exceeds all 
else created : it partakes of the fragrance of the celestial 
life : for a man to understand it, and it to be understood by 
man, is a pleasure which is not known but by the man who 
possesses it, and, what is more admirable (a thing which 
does not occur in any other created science), is that, when 
once it is possessed, it is so thoroughly known that he retains 
neither suspicion nor opinion. 

1 Epist. 103. 


St. Jerome diligently visits the whole of the Holy Land, 
with the object of understanding the Chronicles, and 
other books of the Sacred Scriptures. 

Words fail, and all eloquence is dumb to praise the 
diligence of this great Father in collecting treasures with 
which to enrich the Church. Shortly after his return from 
visiting Alexandria, or, as he himself expresses it, from the 
school of Didymus, his friends Damian and Rogatian 
importuned him to begin to translate the book which in 
Greek is styled Paralipomenon, and in Hebrew Dibre- 
haiamin, which in our vernacular is expressed by Words or 
Things of the Days ; and if we carry the word to its fullest 
signification means the things, the deeds and the events. 
This book is, so to say, an epitome or compendium of the 
whole of the sacred Scriptures from the beginning of 
Genesis to the said book itself, for it is thus that St. 
Jerome interprets the Greek word Paralipomenon ; others 
declare it to be Psaltermissorum, that is to say, of the 
things which were not narrated, or that were passed over in 
a brief manner in the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, 
and Kings. For this does the same doctor declare in the 
Epistle to Paulinus, 1 that this book is of such great import- 
ance that he who thinks that without it he can understand 

1 Epist. 103. 


the Scriptures is deceived ; because in each word and in 
every arrangement of name is declared many things which 
in the Book of Kings were not declared, and by it many 
questions of the New Testament are investigated. In 
order to undertake this labour and succeed in it, he was 
minded to attempt another work necessary for this end, as 
otherwise it would be impossible rightly to carry out the 
work, and it could only be done on the faith of his forefathers. 
And this work was nothing less than to visit, and examine 
with his own eyes, the whole tract of Palestine, searching 
out all its places, cities, towns, mountains, valleys, rivers, 
lakes, springs, and, in a word, all that is found mentioned 
in the province. And so that this study be carried out 
with greater security and certitude, he took with him some 
experts among the Hebrews, men brought up in the land 
itself, and experienced and learned in the sacred Scriptures. 
Because this business of investigating proper names and 
things which are of so great antiquity, and moreover subject 
to so many changes, due to time, to variations (whether from 
the will of princes or from the fury of the enemies), to the 
action of storms, fires, winds, and overflow of waters, 
which sweep away and destroy all things, cast down, break 
up, crush, burn, and submerge, becomes a very difficult 
matter, and one which requires, together with the experience 
of years and knowledge of letters, a very mature judgment 
to carry out. 

The doctor himself manifests to us both the difficulty 
and the advantage. Let us hear him in the Epistle which 
he wrote to Damian and Rogatian : "In the same way," 
he says, "as those can better understand Greek histories 
who have visited Athens, and have understood the third of 
the JEneid of Virgil, who from within have navigated along 
Epirus, and passed its promontory, the mountains Acroce- 
raunos, and, reaching to Sicily from thence have arrived to 


where the Tiber flows into the sea by the Port of Ostia ; 
so also in like manner will he see more clearly into the 
sacred Scriptures who has gazed with his own eyes upon 
Judea, and has considered the remains of the ancient 
cities, attained to the knowledge of their primitive names, 
and those into which they have been changed : for this 
reason did I set store and took the trouble to visit, together 
with men who were learned among the Hebrews, the whole 
province which is constantly mentioned in the Church 
of Christ. I confess to you, my beloved Damian and 
Rogatian, that I have never trusted to my genius, nor followed 
my own opinion in things relating to the divine books ; 
hence, even as regards such things of which I deemed I 
had already obtained safe information, I did not disdain to 
make further inquiries, how much more in such things of 
which I was doubtful. And whereas by your letters you 
had pressed me with haste to put into Latin the Book of 
the Chronicles, I obtained the services of a very learned 
man among the Hebrews to come to me from the city of 
Tiberias, who was held by them to be well versed in the 
law. I have conferred with him upon all points touching 
this my purpose, and thus have satisfied myself, and have 
attempted the work you have enjoined me to do. I confess 
openly to you that this book of names, both in the Greek 
and in the Latin, is so corrupted and full of mistakes that 
it appears rather to be a confused heap of Sarmatian and 
barbarous names than Hebrew ones. But the blame of 
this must not be laid on the seventy interpreters, for these, 
full of the divine Spirit, translated what was true, but 
must be laid on the bad copyists, who out of what was 
true drew falsehoods, and oftentimes out of three names, 
by removing some syllables, abbreviated them, and made 
only one ; others, on the contrary, judging the names long, 
out of one made three." At the end of the prologue he 


says as follows : " He who should feel inclined to reprehend 
anything of this interpretation, let him first inquire of the 
Hebrews, and consider the question well, and attend to the 
coherence of the text and words, and then reprehend, if he 
will, and murmur at this my work." 

This careful diligence of our doctor was of great 
advantage, because such as are versed in both the sacred 
and profane histories teach that, without the knowledge of 
places, their situation, and proper names, both ancient and 
modern, it is like working blindfolded. Twice does the 
holy doctor prove having done so, and how in his memory 
he had ever before him the things of that province : this is 
found in the two records which have remained to us of 
these journeys, the one being the Epistle to Eustochium 1 
on the life of her mother St. Paula, wherein he shows much 
of what there is in the province of Palestine, pointing out 
in a brief manner what is more noteworthy and more 
proper to the office of a good chronologist, and in which 
in my opinion none excel him. The other is in one to 
Dardanus, 2 and this is one of the fullest and gravest epistles 
we have of the saint, and wherein he declares the secret of 
the land of promise : what sacrament was enclosed therein, 
what land it was which in spirit and in truth had been 
promised. He likewise reveals that although the founda- 
tion of this history is in fact laid in that material land, yet 
the thoughts of God were not limited to it, nor were the 
so greatly prized promises circumscribed to its limits. He 
proves this, because in the sayings of Moses and in the 
Prophets many things are found which do not correspond 
with the land, but that they nevertheless reveal, with an 
admirable light, that beneath them is hidden heaven and 
the divine mystery which is being prepared for us. To 
this purpose he tells us an infinite number of things with 

1 E-bist. 27. 2 Epist. 129, 


such subtlety and condensation, that in order to expound 
them much space would be needed. Such as read through 
this lengthy epistle of St. Jerome's will observe that all was a 
figure of the spiritual things promised to the legitimate sons 
of Abraham, children of promise and of faith, not according 
to the flesh. The actual material land was not what was 
in truth promised, nor did the thoughts of God end here : 
it was a figure, not a reality. By figure is called what 
is no more than a representation of what has been, and 
here the representation comes before the truth. Thus does 
St. Paul teach us 1 in many passages of his epistles. The 
conclusion of the epistle of our great doctor declares this 
very grandly. For this reason does he advert to it, and 
lays great stress that we should not forget that in the 
many places in the holy Scriptures where we find references 
to inheritances and riches given to men by God, we should 
not lay stress on the letter or outward meaning, but that 
the soul should rise to the interior spirit, to the riches 
by which the soul is made rich, which neither eye hath 
seen nor ear heard : let us understand by heaven the in- 
fluence of the Divine favour, and God's gifts communicated 
to man ; and by the land, human nature ; by the fruits, the 
good works practised by man. This is what David sought 
to express, when he sings that God blessed the land, and 
the land yielded its fruits, and concludes singing, Truth is 
sprung out of the earth, and justice hath looked down from 
the heavens} And St. Paul understanding well all these 
mysteries, and where all these great promises and blessings 
were to end, witnessing them fulfilled within himself, and 
in all those who in truth and in spirit were true Israelites, 
says, writing to the Ephesians : 3 Blessed be the God and 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with 
spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. As He chose 

1 I Ad Cor. 2 Psalm lxxxv , , 3 Ephes. i. 3, 4. 


us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should 
be holy and unspotted in His sight in charity. How many 
things did the doctor of the Gentiles discover to us, did 
history give us leave to state them here, which I know not 
how they could be stated in any created language ! But 
what we have taken in this discourse must suffice. 

I had also intended in this discourse to have followed 
his steps, I mean to say, have given a full description of 
the Holy Land, which he visited so much to the purpose, 
but I felt and judged it would be outside my purpose, and 
thus decided to omit it. Should any one desire to go into 
this more fully, let him seek out Brocardus in the lengthy 
work he made on this subject. Also Saligniacus brought 
out another, Brundembachius took up also the subject, and 
subsequently to all these, and in a very exhaustive manner, 
Christianus Andricornius. In our language [Spanish] there 
are likewise several works, nevertheless none have the 
finished diction of the one found in the Sacred Scheme of 
the Biblia Regia in the book called Caleb ; because the 
want of knowledge of the Hebrew language in the authors 
I have quoted has been the cause that the native names are 
not written with the accuracy of the last-mentioned work. 


Si. Jerome composes a Martyrology. The Reason for 
writing Martyrologies in the Church. 

Among the signal services which the talent of St. Jerome 
rendered to Holy Church, there was one of no mean im- 
portance. This was a martyrology. In substance this means, 
and was, a brief summary and plain narrative of the life and 
death of martyrs, arranged to suit all days of the year, and 
which from the name of the months was called the Kalendar. 
The day is stated and the place of their martyrdom, and 
the kind of martyrdom they suffered. In the Castilian 
language very little information is found as to the nature of 
martyrologies, and what foundation and motives there were 
for having them. As to the cause which moved our saint 
to do this work, I am inclined to give here some informa- 
tion. One characteristic has the life of our saint, as I have 
observed before, that there is scarcely any one thing in the 
Church which has not passed through his hands. I could 
very well have widened the outlines of his history, had I 
wished to undertake the investigation of the events of his 
time, whether they occurred in the affairs of the Church, or 
in respect to the eastern and western Empires, the Roman 
State, and the persons who treated with him, giving some 
details of their lives and deaths, but I considered that 
this line was very much used by many, and that I might 



from them gather what should be outside my purpose ; 
hence I have withdrawn my hand from what is common- 
place, which would make me a sort of preacher, or an 
orator, a thing very distinct from history. Thus I have 
chosen to treat upon some particular details of the Church, 
which should be purely connected with our saint, either 
seeing that they originated with him, or were furthered 
by him, or again that he had written concerning them. 
Now, as I have said, this is one very worthy work to make 
known as being his in the manner we shall see. The 
occasion which gave rise to the fact of writing martyrologies, 
which in Latin are called Kakndars, by reason that at the 
heading is given the age of the sun and the moon, was that 
in the Roman Church, and in other especial ones, it had 
been usual, ever since the earliest times of the Church, to 
make a remembrance of the saints who had shed their 
blood for Christ, or had notably confessed Him with their 
lives, in the divine offices celebrated in the churches, 
more especially in the holy sacrifice of the altar, when, in 
the course of the year, came the anniversary of their birth- 
day, for such was it called, the day of their martyrdom 
(which was in truth the day of their birth to heaven), 
and the holy sacrifice was offered in their honour and in 
their memory. This duty was entrusted to certain 
persons in the Church, of keeping a memorial of them, so 
that no day should pass unheeded of the martyr or con- 
fessor, and thus their feast and memorial be kept. Grave 
authors and of great antiquity have left records of this 
custom in their writings. Tertullian, in the book De 
Corona Militis, distinctly says, Pro natalitiis annua die 
faciemus, which is to say, on their birthdays we shall offer 
sacrifice once a year. The word facere also means to sacri- 
fice, which is a word much used, not only by the ancient 
Latins, but likewise by the writers of the holy Scriptures. 


Varro, 1 in his book De Lingua Latina, says : Agnamjovi 
facit, "He sacrifices a ewe lamb to Jupiter." Virgil, 2 Cum 
faciam vitulam pro frugibus. Cicero s and Cato, who are 
princes of the Latin tongue, used the said verb in the same 
sense ; and in the Book of Kings Elias said to the priests 
of Baal, Ego faciam bovem alterum ; and then, farther down, 
Eligete bovem unum, et facite primi, from which is clearly 
seen that the w r or - d facite means "Sacrifice to your god an 
ox, and I will sacrifice another to mine." I have willingly 
drawn attention to this, so that we should in passing com- 
prehend that, when our Redeemer said to His disciples on 
the night of the Last Supper, after He had offered the 
sacrifice of His body to the Father : Hoc facite in meam 
commemorationem, not only does He tell them to do what 
He had done, but by the word facite He says, " Sacrifice as 
I have sacrificed : I have sacrificed Myself to the Father, 
and you have to celebrate and sacrifice My own real and 
true body and blood " ; and the same word did Tertullian 
employ, penetrating the same sense, when he said Pro 
natalitiis annua die faciemus. And the word natalitiis does 
not mean, as the hapless Renan thought, the birth according 
to the Gentile sense, but the day when with glorious triumph 
the martyrs were received into heaven. 

This same custom does St. Cyprian* testify to in an epistle 
to the clergy of Carthage, where he says as follows : " Take 
notice and make a commemoration of the days on which they 
died [he speaks of the martyrs], so that we may be able 
to celebrate their memories along with those of other 
martyrs, notwithstanding that our faithful and most devout 
brother Tertullian, with that care and solicitude he has of 
all things, and that he employs in the service of the 
brethren (for even in what appertains to the body he never 

1 Varro, lib. v. 2 Virg. Eclog. 3. 

3 Cicer. Pro Muren. 4 Epist. 37. 


forgets), has written to me, and continues to do so, mark- 
ing the days whereon our blessed brothers have been 
in the prisons, and those who have passed with glorious 
triumph and death into immortality : here we celebrate 
in their commemoration sacrifices and oblations of such 
as presently by the help of the Lord we shall celebrate 
with you." 

In another epistle, 1 he repeats the same : " Let no one 
think," he says, " that these offerings and sacrifices were for 
the liberation from the pains of purgatory, as we do for our 
dead, because the blood which they shed for Jesus Christ 
discharged them from all debt, leaving them pure and clean 
to enter in and enjoy their seats and crowns of glory. This 
is not to be understood but of the festival days, which, to 
their glory and honour, were celebrated as we now celebrate 
them. To Magdalen Christ said that many sins were for- 
given her, because she had loved much ; and He also said 
that no man could show greater love than by giving his 
life for the beloved; hence it is concluded in truth that 
the martyrs, who gave for their beloved Jesus Christ their 
lives, remained after this act and trial well purified and 
sanctified, without stain, nor had they anything to purge, nor 
for them was sacrifice made. To this purpose St. Augustine, 
discoursing on St. John, says: 2 "Let us remember them 
[he speaks of the martyrs] upon the table of the altar, so 
that they may plead for us, and obtain from God that we 
may follow their footsteps, because otherwise it would be 
rather to injure the saints. They have no needs, and we 
assume them to be needy : we ourselves are the ones who 
are necessitous." In accordance with this usage, the 
names of the saints were recited in the mass, and in their 
recitation there came first the Apostles, and then the 
martyrs, and (according as it is gathered from St. Augustine 

1 Epist. 34. 2 Tract 84 et Serm. 17. De Verb Apost. 


in the book De Sancta Virginitate) 1 other saints followed, 
although they were not martyrs. And I believe that from 
this remained the custom, as we see, of the names of the 
saints being mentioned in the canon of the mass even at 
the present day, the Church selecting such as by the im- 
pulse of the Holy Ghost were inserted, so as not to make 
a long list. 

From this fact of the annotations and memorials of 
the days of the martyrs occasion was taken of writing 
martyrologies. Great indeed was the number of martyrs 
who died for Christ during the ten greatest persecutions : 
their names were written down in all the churches, as well 
as the days on which they suffered, and even their torments. 
In those times it was the custom to read out on the eves of 
festivals their names in the church, as is done now in the calen- 
dar, which is read at prime, in order that all should know what 
feast-day was to be celebrated on the following day, and in 
whose memory the Sacred Host was to be offered. There 
were also in the churches boards or panels upon which the 
list of the saints was written. These Tertullian calls fasti, 
which were great archives of ecclesiastic and profane 
antiquity : thus does he say in the book De Corona Militis : 
"Hades tuos census, tuos fastos, nihil tibi cum gaudiis sceculi. 
You have your days reckoned up, your annual festivals : 
you have nothing to do with the joys and festivities of the 
world." Thus it is also seen that on the feast-days of the 
martyrs in those early times the faithful rejoiced, and had 
their banquets and made a feast. These feasts were called 
Agapcs, which means days of love and charity, from which 
is seen the antiquity of the holy custom still practised in 
Spain of the people proceeding to the churches dedicated 
to the martyrs, and the various hermitages, such as those of 
Sts. Sebastian, Lawrence, Stephen, and many others, and 

1 De Sancta Virg. cap. 45. 


there partaking of some food in sign of rejoicing, and it 
is said by that " they give charity." 

In the Laodicean Council, in canon xxxviii., it was 
ordained that this be not done within the church. Thus 
do we see that many of them at the present day still 
retain the porches, around which the invited were gathered 

, The first of whom by common accord we have any notice 
as having done anything in the way of martyrologies was 
Eusebius of Caesarea, called also Pamphilius. And Our 
doctor appears to confirm this as a fact in an epistle 
ascribed to him, which is found among his works, and with 
his name, which was sent to Chromatius and Heliodorus, a 
document which has however been doubted as being his. 
It is affirmed also by Bede 1 in his book on the Acts of the 
Apostles, and by Wilfred Strabo in his work Of the Affairs 
of the Church, and after him by all modern writers, and in 
a more especial manner by John Molanus 2 in his book De 
Martyrologio. The above-quoted authors, after declaring 
Eusebius to be the first, make St. Jerome the second. 
They add that Jerome translated the one written in Greek 
by Eusebius into Latin ; and the actual words of Bede are 
in the already-mentioned place. Strabo says as follows : 
"Jerome, following Eusebius of Caesarea, composed the 
martyrology for the course of the year at the petition of 
the two bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus. The 
occasion was when the Emperor Theodosius attended 
the council of the bishops, and then greatly praised 
Gregory, Bishop of Cordova, because in his daily mass 
he made a memento and named the martyrs who had 
suffered and died on each day." These are the very words 
of Strabo, and are taken from the text of the epistles 

1 Retract, super Act. Apost. cap. I. 
2 Molanus, De Martyr, c. 2. 


which are found at the heading of the martyrologies as 

The reply to the letter, which is ascribed to St. Jerome, 
is long, and among many other things says as follows : 
" When the Emperor Constantine entered the city of 
Caesarea, he bade the holy bishop Eusebius of Caesarea ask 
for what he should judge convenient for the needs of the 
Church of his city ; and it is written that Eusebius replied 
in this wise — My Lord, wealth enough has my Church, 
therefore I have no need to ask for any favours for her. 
But for a great length of time I have greatly desired that 
with much solicitude and diligence search be made in the 
archives of the audience courts and tribunals not only of 
the city of Rome, but all other places subject to the Roman 
Empire, for the processes and causes and suits which had 
been fulminated by the judges of these and other courts 
against the saints of the Lord, and what martyrs there 
were, and under what princes and judges they were judged 
and condemned, in what provinces and cities, on what 
days, and with what perseverance in passion they obtained 
the palm of martyrdom ; and that having drawn all this 
and written down all these extracts from the said archives, 
these documents be sent on to me." He farther on adds 
in the epistle that Eusebius, as faithful narrator of these 
events, wrote the Historia Ecclesiastica, and furthermore 
says: " Whereas for each day there are more than 890 names 
of martyrs mentioned in the various provinces and cities, 
so much so that there is no day in the year which has not 
assigned to it 500, except the first day in January." And at 
the end he says : "In order to prevent the weariness of 
so prolix a task, I will recount the chief among them in 
their proper dates, as in this small book is contained." It 
suffices to have quoted the above from this epistle, to see 
and gather the truth. Cassiodorus, in the book On the 

2 H 


Divine Institutions, says as follows : 1 " Read oftentimes the 
way of future blessedness; read the lives of the Fathers, the 
confessions of the faithful, and the passion of the martyrs, 
which things among others you will find in the epistle 
which St. Jerome sent to Chromatius and Heliodorus and 
those who have flourished throughout the world, in order 
that, encouraged by these, their imitation may carry us 
to the kingdom of heaven." From this is seen the 
great antiquity and authority of these epistles, since 
they bear that name and testimony of Cassiodorus and 
Wilfred Strabo, authors of many hundred years back, 
Cassiodorus having flourished in the year 558. But where- 
as it appears to many learned men of these times that 
these epistles are not authentic but falsehoods under sham 
titles, it is as well to understand the reasons for their 
foundation, which in my judgment are conclusive. As for 
me, I am convinced after hearing Chromatius, Heliodorus, 
and Jerome speaking, that these letters are not theirs, in 
the same way as in place of a politician and a man of lofty 
mind one were to substitute a barbarian and shepherd boy. 2 
Doubtless such are mistaken who think 3 that the book Of 
the Martyrs, written by Eusebius of Caesarea, was a brief 
summary in the manner of a martyrology, and for this 
reason they have made him the author of them. As a 
proof of this we have no need of any but himself, who so 
oftentimes mentions this work in his histories, and teaches 
clearly what it was, and what he did. The case was in 
truth this, according to a very probable conjecture, that 
St. Jerome read these books of Eusebius, and out of them 
made a brief summary, recapitulating the points and the 
substance, and this he sent to the two bishops, Chromatius 

1 Cassiod. De Divin. Inst. cap. 32. 

2 Marian. 9, torn. Operum S. Hieron. 

3 Joan Molanus, prsefat. in Usuard.; Cjesar Baron., preefat. in Martyrol., et t. 5 

Annallum Eccles. 


and Heliodorus. And from this is concluded that St. 
Jerome was the first who set, in form and style the 
martyrologies, at least in the churches of the last named. 

Gelasius refers in the Roman Council that it was not 
permitted in the Church of Rome for histories concern- 
ing the martyrs to be read, as had been up to that time 
the custom ; because, owing to the impious and cruel 
edicts of Diocletian, the most precious relics which the 
world contained, were consigned to the fire, ordering with 
furious hate the books of the Christians to be burnt. This 
is recounted by Eusebius in lib. viii., by Arnobius, Optatus, 
and others. 1 Nevertheless, some tables and minutes re- 
mained, which had been concealed, or were passed over 
unnoticed, and some portions which devout persons had 
preserved secretly, some through devotion, and others from 
holy curiosity, and thus out of these relics was re-formed 
and continued the martyrology, which bears the same stamp 
of antiquity as the commencement of the Church itself, for 
it came from the time of St. Clement, the disciple of 
St. Peter. 

In course of time this was enriched from St. Jerome's 
day, our great doctor, up to the present time, by the dili- 
gence of learned men, pious and saintly. Hence this is 
one of the principal things we have to thank St. Jerome for, 
as appears on the authority of Cassiodorus, above quoted, 
which is very weighty ; and if to this we add that of St. 
Gregory, Pope, 2 it suffices to render it perfectly confirmed. 

In an epistle he wrote to Eulogius, Bishop of 
Alexandria, he says as follows : " We have nearly all the 
names of the martyrs with their individual passions and 
martyrdoms for each one of the days collected together in 
one volume, and we celebrate their memories in the office 
of the mass ; but we have not the statements in this book 

1 Lib. viii. 2. 2 Grego. lib. vii., Epist. indicion. 1, Epist. 29. 


of the kind of martyrdom each endured, but only the place 
and the day of their passion, and, as I have said, we 
know each day how many saints in various lands and 
provinces were crowned with the diadem of martyrdom; 
yet I think that your beatitude possesses the same there 
in your Church." From these words we learn from St. 
Gregory that this book of the martyrology had been spread 
throughout the Church, since he holds it as certain that it 
existed in Alexandria, and that from it various transcripts 
had been taken, which had become dispersed throughout 
the world, and, since there exists no proof of any author, 
either remote or modern, having done this but St. Jerome, 
I mean, set in form and curtailed to an epilogue of days 
of the week, it is seen clearly that it was this which the 
holy doctor Jerome sent from the east to Italy, although 
subsequently there were additions made and revised and 
improved, which was easy to do, after the initial work was 
done, for each Church to add its saints. Later on were 
added not only martyrs, but also holy doctors, confessors, 
and virgins. Thus it increased to such a degree that each 
Church had its own martyrology, from which arose also 
that the office was much varied, so as to give admittance 
to their particular feasts. At least we must say that, 
although it was in Rome that these martyrologies had 
their birth, and their commencement due to the care and 
solicitude of popes and notaries, the form and the manner 
followed is that of St. Jerome throughout the Church, and 
together with this he enriched it with what he sent to be 
added from the labours of Eusebius to those great ones exist- 
ing which were already in Rome. At the present day this 
martyrology is dispersed about, and known under the joint 
titles of St. Jerome and Eusebius, although I doubt not 
but that it is so disfigured and altered that the saint 
himself would not recognise it, and I am of opinion that 


the judgment of Molanus is in part true that this martyrology 
is the one composed by Usuardus at the petition of 
Charlemagne, joining it to all that came to hand from St. 
Jerome, Bede, Florus, and others. Such as would wish to 
know more in detail respecting this question will do well to 
read this author in the part quoted, and Cardinal Caesar 
Baronius in his Commentaries on the Marty ro fogies. 


Of the many Treatises and Epistles which St. Jerome wrote 
at the Petition of various Persons whilst in Bethlehem. 

Like to a new sun did St. Jerome shine forth from the 
cave of Bethlehem, where he had established his dwelling, 
close to that humble crib upon which had been laid the 
wealth of the heavens. To Jerome resorted all such as 
desired their salvation, and such as were yearning to put off 
their ignorance. He was assailed by some with letters, 
and by others to see him, and to be taught by his voice. 
Such as could not come, either by reason of distance, or on 
account of their duties and the offices they filled, or from 
their state in life, ceased not to importune him with letters, 
and craved from him solutions of difficulties and questions, 
and expositions of texts from the holy Scriptures. 

Almighty God awakened these desires in the souls of 
many persons, in order that His servant Jerome should be 
roused from the sleep of contemplation and his own 
individual bent of life, enclosed and humble, to the general 
good of the Church ; because He had not set so brilliant a 
light in that spot for it to be hidden and take pleasure to 
itself alone. Before proceeding farther I wish to observe 
one thing, and that is to make known the deep humility of 
this man at once so saintly and so learned that he never 

attempted to preach in public, neither when a priest 



in Antioch nor when a cardinal at Rome, nor even when 
later on he dwelt in Bethlehem. 

I know not with what words to qualify our own audacity 
in preaching when — I will not say we have not the 
knowledge he had or his sanctity either, but when we are 
totally ignorant and our own lives so ordinary and so listless, 
yet we pretend to do so with such boldness, and set ourselves 
in the pulpit of Christ with such little sufficiency, yet as 
confidently as though we knew more than Jerome : we 
stand forth there bereft of good theology, ignorant of the 
holy Scriptures, without knowledge of languages — I do 
not say of Greek and Hebrew, but of Latin — and even of our 
native tongue, without having studied the art of speaking 
well, but merely having studied a few folios purchased at 
the shops we fill the churches with our voices, we thunder 
forth from the pulpits, and even carry the people after us ! 

St. Jerome, his mind and soul full of all that is deficient 
in us, yet never dared to ascend the pulpit ! Great indeed 
was his humility, as great as is our vanity ; indeed I think I 
cannot exaggerate it. I only find that St. Jerome wrote 
thirty-nine homilies on St. Luke (lost to our sorrow is this 
great treasure !), for although homilia means colloquium, or 
reasoning made in the congregation, there is no proof that he 
delivered them in public, I mean to say in any city or town : 
possibly he may have delivered them to his monks in the 
monastery of Bethlehem. He mentions these homilies in 
the catalogue De viris illustribus, placing them at the end of 
all, and, counting the works he had written down to that 
date, which was the fourteenth year of the Empire of Theo- 
dosius, and of our Lord 392. What marvel that he should 
hesitate at preaching who had not dared to approach the altar 
as a priest, and with equal humility also hesitated to write, 
and all that we have of his was drawn out at the sheer plead- 
ings of friends and saintly persons, that is to say, these books 


were births and offsprings of the spirit of humility deeply 
rooted, which were brought forth at the power of prayer and 
meditation ! What marvel that from these roots should come 
branches which should reach heaven, and that the birds of 
loftiest flight should come and rest upon them ? Evagrius, a 
learned man and a great friend of Jerome's, besought him 
from Antioch to write down his opinion in regard to 
Melchisedech, forasmuch as some held that he was the 
Holy Ghost, 1 and others that he was an angel, or of other 
nature superior to man. Jerome replied destroying this 
error, and proves it by drawing forth the Hebrew origin, 
which says he was like the rest of men, a pure man, and, 
according to the sentence of some Hebrews he was said to 
be Sem, the first-born of father Noe, and who at the time 
he blessed Abraham was of the age of 390, and many other 
things does he teach in this epistle to his great friend 
Evagrius. And whereas there arises an occasion of speak- 
ing of this holy man, it is well to observe here that there 
were two men called Evagrius. One at Antioch, holy and 
pious, the friend of Jerome, who through his merits came to 
be bishop of that city, after the death of Paulinus, and it 
was this one to whom he addressed the reply respecting 
Melchisedech. The other was Ponticus Hyperborites, at 
one time the disciple of St. Gregory Nazianzen, and 
Deacon of Constantinople. He greatly favoured the 
errors of Origen, and was the great friend of Palladius, 
Rufinus, and of Melania, and not content with following 
so evil a doctrine invented another novel one, and other 
things, which any one desirous of further knowledge may 
read in Jerome's Epistle to Tesiphontes. Therefore this 
Evagrius is not to be confounded with Evagrius the friend 
of Jerome. 

Fabiola had besought of Jerome the explanation of the 

1 Epist. 126. 


forty-two mansions, and, whereas he had been unable to 
satisfy her pleadings during her lifetime, he consecrated this 
labour to her memory after her death, being then in 
Bethlehem. Fabiola likewise requested him to declare the 
sacerdotal vesture of the old synagogue. He did so, 1 and, 
in order to grasp better the subject, he commences with the 
most important of the ancient sacrifices, and declares first 
the sense of the letter and history, as he did in the exposi- 
tion of the mansions ; secondly, the spirit and the truth. 
In these treatises St. Jerome joins together brevity and 
elegance, and with such skill that I venture to say he far 
outshone all writers, whether ancient or modern — there is 
no word which he might have suppressed, no negligence, 
or a single word without its mystery. What he says of 
others perfectly fits him in a higher degree, so that such as 
become converted to the Lord with ease can remove the 
veil from the countenance of Moses, because as His law is 
spiritual, and He is a Spirit, so does the letter die 
which kills, and the Spirit rises up that gives life. As 
David asked, when he said : " Lord, clean my eyes, remove 
the veil from them, and I will consider the marvels of Thy 
Law." This is indeed a singular epistle, 2 it teaches much 
in a few sentences ; adding to it another epistle he wrote 
to Marcella, who had asked him from Rome to declare 
what thing was the Ephod-bad and what the Teraphim, 
there will be found a complete definition of what appertains 
to these sacerdotal vestures and ornaments, and the sacred 
ceremonies ; in the book called Aaron will be found what 
here might not be so clear. To the same Marcella he 
also declares in another epistle 8 the ten divine names 
which are found in the Hebrew, while in another epistle he 
declares to her what is meant by the Greek Diapsalmon 
and the Hebrew Sela, which is so frequently used in the 

1 Epist. 128. 2 Epist. 130. In Biblia Regia. 3 Epist. 1 36. 


Psalms. At the pleadings of the same holy matron he 
made a very learned exposition of the Psalm 126, Nisi 
Dominus CEdificaverit Domtim. Also the epistle wherein 
he declares what is the sin in spiritum Sanctum, and many 
other things, for, as she was a matron of so great sanctity 
and lofty intelligence, Jerome took great pleasure in 
serving her in things of such gravity. 1 At the request 
of the priest Cyprian he commented on Psalm 89, 
Domine refugium /actus es nobis, in accordance with the 
Hebrew text and the translation of the Septuagint. The 
holy virgin Principia besought of him the exposition of 
Psalm 44, Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum, and there 2 
he gives her the reason, and excuses himself for writing to 
virgins and matrons (which we have already touched upon), 
that it was because he found in them a greater desire for 
understanding the divine mysteries than he did in men. 
For, had men asked him these questions, he would not be 
speaking with women. It was the women who awakened 
him and besought and pleaded with questions which required 
to be replied, and it was not in reason he should refuse to 
accede to their holy pleadings. Here comes to my mind 
what occurred in the life of our Saviour, for, if we examine 
it attentively, we will find that with none of the Hebrew 
people did He discuss the divine mysteries so clearly and so 
deeply as at the well of Samaria with a lowly woman. 
God spoke to Nipodemus by night and in signs and 
metaphors, yet he was a learned man, and of good in- 
tentions, although at the time these words of God were 
obscure to his soul, and dark ; but with the Samaritan 
woman he spoke very clearly. Speaking to her He spoke 
those loving words : " Oh ! if thou didst but know who 
it is that speaketh to thee and what is the gift of God," 
and, point by point, He draws her on until He discloses 

1 Epist. 139. 2 Epist. 140. 


Himself to her and says — "I am the Messias whom you 
await ! " 

Now this statement I do not find He ever made to 
any other person, and the reason of this, let him consider 
it who will, for through the speech of our saint it is easy 
to find. 

Minnerius and Alexander, two great servants of God, 
monks of Egypt, asked of him by letter 1 some difficult 
passages in St. Paul's Epistles, in particular the text in the 
first to the Corinthians : " We shall all sleep, but not all be 
changed" on account of the divergence found in the copies ; 
and taking advantage of this occasion, he wrote a beautiful 
treatise on the end of the world, on the last judgment, and 
the resurrection of the body. Amandus, another priest, 
importuned him to clear away for him many other difficulties. 
Sunnia and Fratella wrote to Jerome from Germany beseech- 
ing him to declare to them in what consisted the difference 
between the Greek and Latin versions of the Psalms, and 
teach them which of the two is most conformable to the 
Hebrew and more worthy of being followed. St. Jerome 
greatly esteemed this desire (which in truth is much to be 
esteemed). He replied by a long and very learned epistle, 2 
in which he satisfied them, and praises with joy the fact 
that so barbarous and rude a people as are the Gets 
and the Germans, who are more given to warfare and 
inclined to the clamour of the army than to tenderness 
of spirit and the calm of the divine letters, should seek 
with greater solicitude the Hebrew text than the Greek 
nation, so greatly addicted since ancient times to study. 
The holy doctor infers here that the question is not in 
being of this or that nationality, because God is not an 
acceptor of persons, as St. Peter defined, but in the fact 
that He manifests Himself to all who seek and desire Him, 

1 Epist. 2Sr. a Epist. 135. 


and to them He benignly gives and delivers His gifts. To 
this purpose does Jerome tell them at the beginning of the 
epistle, in loving and courteous words, how rejoiced he had 
been to find women of so warlike a people placed in 
such occupation, and with so earnest a desire, that from 
Germany they should send to Syria such questions to be 
defined. From this is also inferred the great renown of 
St. Jerome, a poor monk enclosed in a cell of Bethlehem, 
yet sought out from the remotest parts of the world by 
men and women. Hedibia and Algasia do likewise from 
France : they sent messengers and proposed questions of 
importance. These are replied to, 1 and thus Jerome delivers 
out of their difficulties all who resort to him. Paulinus 
the priest also importuned him with other grave questions. 
And in order to avoid any mistake in reference to the 
Paulinus of whom in the course of this history we have 
had occasion to mention (and in the epistles and writings 
of our saint there are found various works), it must be 
adverted that the first Paulinus was Bishop of Antioch, and 
the one who ordained our saint, and came with him to 
Rome : the same who had the disputes with Meletius, and 
who was succeeded after his death by Evagrius. Another, 
the second Paulinus, was a great Roman senator, consul- 
general by reason of his great virtue and prudence ; he was 
the disciple of Ausonius, a celebrated poet, and who sub- 
sequently left all things and, contemning the things of the 
world, and even poetry itself and other elegant studies, 
was minded to enter the monastic life. He consulted 
with Jerome on the spot to be selected by letters, because 
he had formed the intention of coming with him to the 
Holy Land, and the saint dissuaded him from it ; for he 
fully realised the great advantage it would be for Italy that 
he should remain and exercise there his authority. On 

1 Epist. 150 and 151. 


this subject Jerome wrote to him a very learned and 
eloquent epistle, 1 in which he gives him the rule of life in 
a monastic order as to its chief points, and persuades him to 
undertake the study of the holy Scriptures because he 
himself had an elegant style. For this same individual 
Jerome declares in an another epistle 2 two questions 
which he had proposed. At last this Paulinus became 
the renowned great Bishop of Nola, so lauded by 
St. Augustine and other learned doctors. Quite distinct 
from either of these was the third Paulinus, to whom 
Jerome addressed, the celebrated epistle which is found 
at the beginning of the Bible, wherein he persuades him 
to come to the Holy Land, contrariwise to what he had 
urged the other Paulinus, 8 whence is seen that they were 
different men, although some seem to think they were the 
same ; but they are in error, since they fail to perceive 
that these two epistles advise contrary things — one that he 
should not come to the Holy Land, and the other to come, 
both individuals being at the proper age to choose the life 
or state to be followed. This is in brief the history of the 
various Paulinus, so that we should make no mistake. In 
a word, wheresoever there were learned men, wherever 
there were good desires and grave affairs and questions to 
be treated upon in Rome, in Egypt, Germany, Africa, 
France, or Spain in respect to the sacred Scriptures, or 
any difficulty arose, the solution or remedy was to seek 
Jerome, and resort to the cave of Bethlehem for the food 
of doctrine, which was the bread Jeremiah wept over, 
because there was no one to break it for the little ones ! 

In order to see the activity, the crowd of things, which 
came to Bethlehem, and the labours that were thereby 
imposed upon the saintly doctor to carry through, let us 
hear his confession, drawn from him, so to say, under 

1 Epist. 13. 2 Epist. 153. 3 Marian, in argument, Epist. 103. 


torture. Writing to the second Paulinus above mentioned, 
in the aforequoted epistle, he says as follows at the 
commencement : " With loud voice you awaken me to 
write, and with your own eloquence you terrify me, for in 
the diction you employ in your epistles you represent me to 
be a Cicero. You complain to me that I only send you 
little short epistles written carelessly. This does not 
proceed from negligence, but from the fear you have 
inspired in me, for, did I send you many words, you would 
find much to correct, and, to tell you the simple truth, in 
this shipload which is being prepared now to forward to 
the West I have been demanded so many replies to letters 
that, were I to reply to all that I am asked for, I should 
find it impossible to satisfy ; therefore I strive — putting 
aside elegance and good diction, as well as the desires of 
such as address me — to reply just what first occurs to me. 
And, when I send you my letters, I do it not considering 
you as a judge, but as a friend." Of this pressure of work 
and frequent calls upon his time and genius does Jerome 
complain in many places. I omit to mention many other 
epistles and treatises forwarded to many persons on various 
and difficult matters. 

Amid many other things which are marvels that we 
discover in the life of this great doctor, one thing indeed 
which commands our deep consideration is to observe how 
he speaks to and measures swords with all classes, popes, 
monks, priests, consuls, senators, virgins, widows, and 
married people ; yet to each one he is fully able to reply 
and advise ; with all propriety and keeping decorum, he in- 
vestigates and penetrates each case, and lucidly advises, as 
though in each state he had been well exercised in its 
office and foreseen its aims. This qualification is also 
observed in other holy doctors, because God has set them 
as beacons and lights, to illumine such as do not know so 


much ; but in no one with such brilliancy as in Jerome. 
Whoever considers and witnesses how he speaks with 
married people — a state absolutely different to his own 
— and should listen to his advice, rules, documents for 
the family, children, servants, the plan and the arrangement 
of the household, and how notwithstanding all these duties 
they can have recourse to prayer at proper times and 
practise the exercise of pious works, he would be inclined to 
believe that he himself had been a married man all his life. 
On the other hand, when we find him revealing the malice 
and wretched dealings of priests, the omissions of the 
bishops, the negligences of the monks, the bold ways of 
widows, and the freedom of single women, there is no one 
but would be fain to say he had been watching them, or that 
he had a familiar spirit which revealed and discovered all 
this to him. But it was naught else but that God dealt 
towards him in the manner He had done in other times 
with His prophets when He wished to reprehend and 
punish the evil customs of His people. God would instil 
into him, as He had done into them, terms and words so 
vivid, so significant of vice and malice, that it would seem 
they were in the midst of it all. For instance, who taught 
Isaias to name, and mention in detail, with such significant 
expressions the decking-out and manners of the worldly 
dressed-up women and lovers of Israel as he depicts them 
in every point ? Similarly does God act now, and always 
has done, in the Church with His saintly preachers ! Who 
that would behold Chrysostom, Basil, Gregory, Bernard, 
and others revealing the malice and the evil doings of all 
the states of life we have already mentioned — a thing they 
themselves were very far from following — but would have 
to admit that this language was not learned in the ordinary 
way ? Many preachers of our time vaunt loudly that they 
could do the same very vividly themselves. Let us hope 


in God that these latter have not acquired this knowledge 
by other paths than that one followed by the saints ! For 
the effects do not appear to be the same. As we were 
proceeding to speak of the occupations and the haste that 
was forced on Jerome that he had barely time to reply to 
the demands upon him, despite that his facility in doing 
so and his promptitude was very great, hence they were 
always ahead of him, who could believe that a man 
could be found of such skill as to be able to translate in 
three days from Hebrew into Latin the books of Solomon — 
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles ? To be able to 
read them simply within this time is a great deal. Yet 
Jerome himself affirms that he did so. Let us hear him 
in the Epistle to Chromatius and Heliodorus, to whom 
he addresses the preface to these books. " Let the letter 
be joined to such as are united in the priesthood, or, rather 
better said, do not divide the epistle among those who 
are gathered together by the love of Christ. The Com- 
mentaries on Osee, Amos, Zacharias, and Malachias which 
you have asked me for, I would willingly write, did my 
sickness permit. Send me assistance for the cost, and 
support my copyist, in order that my genius and pen 
may be principally employed in your service ; but I am 
surrounded by those who demand many things, as though 
it were just that I should labour for others when you 
yourselves are in need, or in a question of obligation and 
of contract I should deem myself the debtor of any others 
but yourselves. Hence, although broken in health by a 
long illness, yet so that the whole year be not passed in 
silence and dumbness towards you, I have dedicated in your 
name a labour of only three days, which was the translation 
of three books of Solomon — Miste, which the Hebrews 
call parables, and in the vulgate translation Proverbs ; 
Koheleth, which the Greeks call Ecclesiastes, and we in 


Latin call Concionator ; and Sir of Sirin, which in our 
vernacular means Canticle of Canticles." 

Despite that this quickness of translation reveals great 
facility and knowledge of both languages, and a deep 
comprehension of the holy Scriptures, I think what he 
did at the request of his disciple Eusebius of Cremona 
far more wonderful. He was bound to proceed to Italy, 
but he did not wish to start without some gift from his 
master ; hence Eusebius begged Jerome to give him some 
declaration on St. Matthew, and he so prevailed upon 
him that in the space of a fortnight (a thing almost 
incredible) he wrote the Commentaries which are in the 
Church and are read with so much profit ; and foras- 
much as the preface written by the master himself to his 
disciple affords us a testimony of this statement and is very 
erudite, I wish to insert here some part. It commences 
thus : " Whereas many set store on arranging the history 
of those things, which we see fulfilled in ourselves, accord- 
ing as we are told by those who from the commencement 
saw them and were ministers of the said word ; and the 
monuments and relics which up to . the present have 
continued and been explained, because being composed by 
various authors were the beginnings of divers sects, such 
as is the gospel called by the Egyptian that of St. Thomas, 
St. Matthias, of St. Bartholomew, and, lastly of all, of the 
Twelve Apostles ; that of Basilides and Apelles, and of 
many more, which would be too long to count ; and it 
suffices to say at present of all of them that there were 
some who without the Spirit of God and without His grace 
wearied themselves rather to arrange and weave out tales 
than to write a true history, to which fits well the words 
of the prophet : ' Alas ! for those who prophesy out of their 
heads, and walk according to their own spirit, and say, 
The Lord saith and the Lord did not send them! " 

2 1 


After these words he proceeds on to a full discourse to 
prove that there are no more than four Evangelists, and 
that all else is apocryphal and even dangerous, full of the 
malice of heretics, and then says : " I greatly marvel, 
beloved Eusebius, why wishing so soon to depart for 
Rome you desire to take with you such forage from 
me for the journey as a brief commentary of St. 
Matthew, collected together in words to expound its 
sense ? Were you to bear in mind my reply, you would 
not ask me to do in a few days what is a labour of 
many years. Because, as to the first, it is a difficult thing 
to read all those who have written gospels ; more difficult 
still after this to draw out what with mature judgment 
was selected as best. It is true to say that many years 
ago I did read twenty-two volumes of Origen upon St. 
Matthew, which are many homilies [this is a kind of divided 
commentary and as a sort of extract], and the commentaries 
of Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch ; of Hippolytus, martyr ; 
and of Theodorus of Heraclea, of Apollinaris of Laodicea, 
of Didymus of Alexandria, and of the Latins, Hilary and 
Victorinus, and the treatises of Fortunatisn ; out of all 
which, however little I might extract, I would write some- 
thing worthy of being remembered. Yet you, in two 
weeks and with Easter approaching, the winds already 
rising, constrain me to dictate when there is no time 
for the copyists to write, or to make a fair copy, revise, 
arrange, or digest. Moreover, you are well aware that 
for the last three months I am harassed by this long 
sickness and am now only just beginning to walk ; neither 
can such a large work be done properly within so short a 
time. However, omitting the authority of the ancients, 
since it is not possible for me to read or follow them, I have 
continued the interpretation of the letter and the history, 
which was the chief thing you besought me, interspersing 


at times the flowers of the spiritual sense, keeping for 
another occasion a future work which will be more perfect ; 
and, if God gives me a longer life, and you comply with 
the promise you have made me of returning, then I would 
make an effort to carry out what remains to be done ; or 
better said, there remains at present only the foundations 
and part of the walls raised in order to place later on the 
top a handsome dome or crown to the work, and then 
you will see the difference that exists between a hasty 
stroke of the pen at dictation, and mature diligence and 
careful writing. For certainly you know very well — and 
I should be ashamed to call you as a witness to an untruth — 
that I composed the treatise with such haste that you often- 
times thought not that I wrote anything of mine, but that 
I read out some one else's work. Do not imagine I say 
this through arrogance, or because I trust much to my own 
genius, but that I wish you to understand how much you 
can prevail on me, since I esteem less that my name 
should be depreciated among the learned than deny you 
what with so much instance you desire me to do. Hence 
I pray you that, if the style should not be so finished, nor 
the periods fall with the usual cadence, to ascribe it to 
haste and not to ignorance. I enjoin you, when you 
reach Rome, to give a copy to the virgin of Christ, 
Principia, who has begged of me to write something on the 
Canticles of Solomon ; and deprived of doing this through 
the long illness I have protracted my hopes, binding upon 
you this law — that if you deny to her what I have written 
for you, she in like manner will lock up in her desk what 
has or shall be written for her." In the preface of the 
second book of his commentaries on the Epistle to the 
Ephesians, writing to Paula and Eustochium excusing 
himself for the uncultured style, he says that he does not 
assume to do more than declare the mysteries of holy 


Scriptures, without polishing much the words, because on 
many days what he writes exceeds a thousand verses ; and 
this he does in order to bring to a conclusion the com- 
mentaries on the Apostle. I have willingly transcribed 
here this statement so that men may see the truth of what I 
said, and also to show the wit' and pithiness with which the 
saint expresses it. We might well say of him what David 
sang about himself when he compared his tongue to the 
pen of a scrivener ; and similarly, as the pen without any 
effort of itself leaves written on the parchment what the 
right hand running along leaves with its words, so also the 
tongue uttered the words which the Divine Spirit inspired, 
sown in the air ; and, although not in so excellent a 
degree, in a manner we may say the same of St. Jerome. 
We also perceive from his words how assailed he was 
constantly by continued illness, due to the rough usage he 
gave his body, and the hard life he endured through his 
unsatiable thirst for penance. Few indeed were the years 
that his emaciated body was not attacked by sickness 
and tried in many other ways : hair shirts, fastings, chains, 
lengthened prayer, and the exercise he imposed upon 
himself between times of washing the feet of all who in 
such numbers resorted to him. 

I surmise that it was from here that our saintly doctor 
wrote what he did on the Canticles of Solomon, this literary 
treasure having been lost to us together with many other 
writings. In the catalogue of his works he mentions two 
homilies on the Canticles. Some assert that these were 
what he transcribed from Origen, although when it is no 
more than a transcript he always mentions the fact, as 
may be observed in that same catalogue ; hence I am 
inclined to believe that both these homilies were his own, 
and that at the time he had written no others, for, as we 
have seen, this was in the fourteenth year of the Empire 


of Theodosius, and subsequently, as he lived a long life, he 
might have finished the rest. And in passing I will say 
what I think in regard to the Commentaries which are 
scattered about mixed with his works on St. Mark, and 
what is the opinion of such as have investigated this well. 
All students are at one who have studied the diction of St. 
Jerome, that these Commentaries are not his, but that they 
were engrafted on his works many years ago. This they 
prove by many reasons ; and the first, let it be the obvious 
one, the great difference which exists in the language, for 
we can never admit that a learned man and one so wise 
can forget his manner of speaking, and should change it so 
unwarrantably from his usual style of writing that it should 
appear as that of another man. He who should not feel 
this must needs know little, and not understand what 
difference there is between the manner of expressing 
himself of a learned man and that of one who is not. 
The style of the man who wrote these Commentaries is of 
one who only knew Latin fairly well, Greek very little, and 
Hebrew not at all ; therefore, how could St. Jerome so 
altogether forget his learning ? Even should he have done 
it on purpose, he would have been betrayed in many places. 
Moreover, St. Jerome, albeit he at times did not care to be 
so very polished as his diction usually was, yet he is careful 
never to appear either as a barbarian or as an ignoramus, 
much of which is to be found in this exposition of St. Mark, 
things most unworthy to be attributed to so polished an 
intellect and judgment as was that of St. Jerome. Never 
could St. Jerome say, although he should speak in his sleep, 
that Pascha signifies transitus, and Phase signifies immolatio, 
as says the author of these Commentaries on Chapter XIV. 
And that Nardum Pisticam is the same as Misticam. These 
Commentaries also have many sentences extremely contrary 
to those of the saintly doctor ; and what is more noteworthy, 


in Chapter XV. there are quoted fragments of verses 
of Sedulius on the form of the Cross. Sedulius is later 
than our doctor by some years, since it is hardly possible 
that at the time of Jerome's death he should have been born, 
which was about the year 430. In Chapter XV. he affirms 
that St. Mark says correctly that Christ was crucified at 
the hour of Terce, because at the hour of Sext, so great 
was the darkness that the Jews were unable to read the 
title on the Cross. In this manner there are a hundred 
other things ; thus I have no doubt that these Commentaries 
were not his, nor indeed would Jerome gain anything by 
their being attributed to him, except with such persons 
as deem more the quantity of books than that they should 
be good, and well and carefully finished ; as though works 
of greatness of spirit and objects of genius should be 
given out by weight and cart-loads. Jerome about this 
time wrote many other things, and we know that in the 
year above stated, after the birth of the Saviour 392, and the 
fourteenth of Theodosius, he had written a Chronicon of 
Universal History : it was called Chronicon in Greek, as 
we should say annates, relating in brief the events according 
to the course of time by the consecutive years, keeping 
great precision, which is the soul of history. In this work 
he makes no reference to the history he translated of 
Eusebius of Csesarea from Greek into Latin, yet it is certain 
he did do so during the reigns of the Emperors Theodosius 
and Gratian, as is proved by himself in a preface he set to 
this very translation. And to avoid any mistakes, it must 
be observed that this Chronicon of Universal History of 
Eusebius is not the work in ten volumes which now is 
called the Ecclesiastical History, because these were trans- 
lated by Rufinus of Aquileia, but the Chronica Universalia ; 
and, in order to see the truth of this, and what it was 
that the holy doctor did in this work, let us hear his own 


words in the preface. " Let it be noticed," he says, 
" that in this work I at times act the office of 
interpreter, at others of author, because sometimes I 
translate the Greek faithfully, at other times I add what I 
judge be wanting, more especially in the Historic/, Romana, 
which Eusebius wrote, who was the author of this work, 
not because he was ignorant (for he was very erudite), 
but because, as he wrote the Greek version, he judged it was 
little to the purpose. So much was this the case that from 
Ninus and Abraham to the Fall of Troy it is no more than a 
translation of Greek into Latin ; and from the Fall of Troy 
down to the twentieth year of the reign of Constantine I 
more often added, and at other times mingled, what I drew 
from Tranquillus and other illustrious historians with all 
precision. From the aforesaid date down to the consulships 
of Augustus, of Valens VI., and Valentinian the Second, 
all is my own. I deemed best to end here, reserving the 
later times of Gratian and Theodosius to form a larger 
history. Not that I had any fear of writing of the living 
freely and truly (may the fear of God cast out that of man !), 
but because, owing to the fury of the barbarians which is 
disturbing the whole earth, all things are in an uncertain 
state, without knowing how things will end." All this is 

And in the epistle 1 on the right way of interpreting 
which he writes to Pammachius, he openly confesses the 
same, and brings forward this very preface to Eusebius, 
and mentions some words from it. In Daniel 2 he 
quotes the Chronicon of Eusebius, translated by himself. 
Let it be observed here by the diligent student of history 
that the Chronicon of Eusebius and Jerome, which now is 
in circulation, is very distinct from the one made by these 
two most grave authors : the negligence of the copyists 

1 Epist. 101. 2 Hieron. in Daniel, cap. 9. 


erased the lines and the letters of various colours which the 
holy doctor set for the clear understanding of this work ; 
hence, without this affix, which was very important, as 
appears by the preface itself, occurred what the same 
doctor said, that, in order to avoid the weariness of drawing 
the lines and setting the various colours, in place of a 
Chronicon it became a labyrinth. In this manner, to our 
great sorrow, it became changed into another form, bold 
and ungainly, and thus blame is cast by reason of its infinite 
absurdities on men who are blameless, excepting for 
having foolishly laboured for so ungrateful a people. Let 
this discourse be ended here, because we could not without 
weariness properly discuss all that is involved in so copious 
a subject. 


The Narrative is continued of the Literary Documents left by 
St. Jerome in the Church, made chiefly at the Petition 
of Pious Persons. 

St. Jerome more earnestly laboured for the two great 
servants of Christ, mother and daughter, Paula and 
Eustochium, than for others. To them no door was closed : 
he could deny them nothing. They drew from him all 
they desired, and they owed him everything. The saint 
acknowledges this by the laws of gratitude. They were 
fellow-workers, inseparable in his life and studies : all 
things he judged little which he could do at their pleading. 
A few days after his return from the companionship of 
Didymus of Alexandria, at the petition of both these holy 
women, he wrote the Commentary on the Epistle to the 
Galatians in three volumes. Later on upon the Epistle to 
the Ephesians, three other books. Upon the Epistle to 
Titus, and upon that to Philemon, as many more. 

The prefaces which he wrote to each of these books 
are most delightful, of great erudition, and of equal profit. 
1 1 seems to me such a pity to pass them over in silence ! 
Let us at least hear him on the occasion of these his Com- 
mentaries on the Epistle to the Ephesians in the preface, 
where he writes these words : "If there be anything, O 

Paula and Eustochium ! which could detain in this life a 



wise man, and amid the turmoils and the changes of this 
world enable him to keep calm and peaceful, I think the 
chief and most efficacious one to be the meditation on the 
sacred Scriptures." And farther on he says : "You are well 
aware that I have been drawn, as though by force brought 
down by your pleadings, to undertake this labour of explain- 
ing and commentating, not because from my childhood I 
had ever ceased reading or inquiring from learned men 
what I was ignorant of, and that I had not been, as others 
are, their own masters. For this cause it was principally 
that not many days past I went to Alexandria to commune 
with Didymus, and ask of him solutions for the doubts and 
difficulties I had on the Scriptures, because it is a very 
different thing for a man to make books of his own, such 
as on avarice, on faith, virginity, on the state of widowhood, 
and such like matters, and upon each of these to write with 
the elegance and diction of profane letters joined to the 
testimonies of the holy Scriptures, and upon commonplaces 
expend all the pomp of eloquence, and quite another thing 
to enter within the sense and mind of the apostle, or of 
the prophet, and comprehend the aim and end they had in 
their writings, and by what reasoning they confirm their 
sentences." Farther on again he says: "And, whereas 
we declared by the aid of your prayers what we felt in 
regard to the Epistle to the Galatians, it will be well for 
us to pass on to the Epistle to the Ephesians, which stands 
between in sense and in order. I say between, not because 
it is less than the first ones, and greater than those that 
follow, but that it is like the heart of the anima#, which 
stands in the centre of the body, in order that you should 
understand in what great difficulties and deep questions the 
Epistle is enwrapped. St. Paul wrote to those of Ephesus 
who worshipped Diana, not the huntress of the quiver and 
bow and close garments, but the Diana of many hearts, whom 


the Greeks call Polymasthon, to imply by that figure that 
she brings forth and nourishes all living beings." It is also 
proved that he first wrote upon the Epistle to Philemon, 
and not on the one to the Galatians, because in the preface 
to this Epistle he says: "A few days ago, after commenting 
on the Epistle of St. Paul to Philemon, leaving aside others, 
I was proceeding to do the same in regard to the one on 
the Galatians, and, when most intent on my work, there came 
letters from the city of Rome that the aged and venerable 
Albina had gone to enjoy her God, and that the saintly 
Marcella, bereft of the companionship of her mother, now 
more than ever desired your society, O Paula and Eusto- 
chium ! and, meanwhile, seeing that this cannot be effected 
on account of the great distance of sea and land which 
intervenes, she would wish at least to heal the recent wound 
with the balm of the holy Scriptures." In the preface of 
the second book of this Commentary he demonstrates to 
us who were the Galatians, whence they came, why they 
were thus called, with the opinion of Lactantius and other 
matters of antiquity. 

To the third book he writes another preface, from which, 
being very profitable for the disillusion of our own times 
and for the comprehension of this history, I will insert some 
paragraphs. Hence he says : " The third volume, O Paula 
and Eustochium ! upon the Epistle to the Galatians already 
commences to be planned. I am well aware of my in- 
sufficiency and the small flow of my weak and poor genius, 
of which scarcely a murmur is heard and the voice of 
eloqueffce is barely felt. Forasmuch as what is now most 
desired in the Churches is this, that putting aside the plain 
speech of apostolic words people come to sermons as 
though it were the theatre of Minerva, or the place where 
orators were wont to exercise themselves in order to win 
the applause of the audience, while prayer, interspersed 


with fables and lies, comes forth before the public like a 
dressed up harlot, not so much with the object of teach- 
ing the people as to win praise and favour, and to sound 
like the tones of a sweet instrument, to tickle the ears of 
the listener : in such sort that it fits in well in these times 
with that which God spoke through the prophet Ezechiel, 
saying, ' It is cast to them like the sound of the zither, which 
sounds sweetly and with concerted harmony, and they hear 
Thy words and do not put them in practice.' What shall I 
do? Shall I perchance keep silence? But it is written, 'You 
shall not appear empty in the presence of your Lord ' ; and 
Isaias (according to the Hebrew text) wails and sighs, say- 
ing, ' Alas for me ! why did I keep silent ? ' Alas ! all the 
elegance and ornateness of the language, the beauty of 
the Latin speech, has been disarranged and made rude 
by the uncouthness of the Hebrew lesson ! You are well 
aware that for more than fifteen years I have not taken 
up in my hands either Cicero or Virgil, or any of the 
Gentile authors ; and if in my discourses some time or 
another something of this escapes me, it is because it comes 
to my memory like the mist of a former dream. How 
much I have profited from the continual study of that 
strange tongue, let others judge ; but / know how much I 
have lost of my own. To this is added that owing to my 
infirmities, to not only my failing eyesight but all my 
wretched body, I am unable to write by my own hand, nor 
can I compensate for what is wanting in elegance of diction 
by diligence, as is said of Virgil that his books were like 
the cubs of the she-bear, which were licked by the mother 
into shape and perfection. And, as I employ a copyist, if 
I linger a little to think the better and express myself, he 
silently reprehends me, drawing back his hand and wrink- 
ling his brow, and by every movement of his person seems 
to be telling me that he is losing time and is idle." 


From these words of St. Jerome, and other similar ones 
which he employs in the preface to the third book of his 
Commentary on Zacharias, is understood the frequency of his 
ailments, the debility and slightness of his body, the strain 
of continual labour, the failing of his sight, the effect of his 
vigils and penances. Here also is condemned the vain 
curiosity of speakers of our time, their emptiness of ex- 
pression, and the bold things they advance without respect 
to what they are treating upon in the sacred Scriptures. 
He also wrote at the petition of these two holy women the 
Commentaries on Micheas, Nahum, Sopkonias, and Aggeus, 
and in the preface to the book of Sophonias he replies in 
a very elegant manner to those who reprehend him because 
he dedicates his labours to women ; but all this we have 
already treated upon. 

He also wrote commentaries on the other minor prophets, 
at the request of many pious men who were desirous of 
having this boon, and who greatly esteemed the labours of 
this great doctor, being fully aware of the treasures that 
were enclosed within. The most notable of these pious 
men, and the one for whom he wrote most, and one he 
held in great respect, was Pammachius, son-in-law of St. 
Paula, whom she styled son ; the first appellation being due 
to him according to the flesh, and the second according to 
the spirit. To Pammachius he dedicated the three books 
of Commentaries on Osee, while in the preface to the second 
book he tells us that up to that date none of the Latins had 
written upon this prophet, for which reason he (Jerome) 
was held to be a very daring man to attempt doing so. 
Farther on he alleges a reason which is very characteristic 
of himself. 

"I am very glad of your assistance," he says, "foras- 
much as in the principal of the cities here below I have a 
defender who stands as one of the first in nobility and in 


religion. But, after all, I would rather it should happen to 
me what Titus Livius wrote of Cato, that as regards his virtue 
and his excellence none could be a party to increasing them by 
praise, nor lowering them by vituperation ; because both the 
one and the other was done by men of great genius." This 
he said in reference to Cicero and Caesar, since the one wrote 
much in his praise, and the other in his dispraise. " Whilst 
we live and remain enclosed in these easily broken clay 
vessels, it would appear that the favour of friends is of 
some use, and the opprobrium of our enemies does us harm," 
he adds ; " but when dust joins itself to dust, and when both, 
such as we writers and those who judge us, have been taken 
away by pale death and been succeeded by another genera- 
tion, and the first leaves of the now green trees shall have 
fallen, and these again be succeeded by the new ones of 
another spring, then, irrespective of dignities or names, 
the great genius will be judged for what he is ; the 
reader will have no regard as to who he be, but what he 
proves to be, whether he be a bishop or layman, emperor 
or lord, whether soldier or slave, nor whether he was vested 
in purple or in common cloth ; the merit only of the work 
done will be regarded, without respect to these differences." 
This is St. Jerome's opinion, and as true as our experi- 
ence clearly manifests to us. The example lies before us. 
Who that beholds at the present day the writings of St. 
Jerome, who was but a poor monk enclosed in a cell, weak, 
in ill-health, an outcast placed now on the height and pinnacle 
as a grand author, well-nigh worshipped and held up to be a 
luminary for all the world, a great treasure of learning for 
the Church and for heaven ! What became of the writings 
of an infinite number of bishops, prelates, princes, and others 
who wrote in those times, and in other ages, who, whilst 
they lived, held power, whom falsehood and ambition had 
so greatly flattered, placing them above the moon, and 


who now are buried in oblivion ? Scarcely any one 
ever knows that they existed ! Fate is changed : some 
of the writings of these serve now, as the poet says, to 
wrap up pepper and spices in shops, to be torn by 
schoolboys ; while those of the first order, in the same 
way that they are cast to the winds and become consumed, 
are in their reputation rising strong on the wing, and their 
names become green again. In the preface to the third 
book of the Commentary upon Amos he declares the 
order he followed when writing upon the twelve minor 
prophets, and to his friend Pammachius he speaks in this 
wise : " Without order and in a confused manner did we 
begin to write upon the minor prophets, and assisted by 
our Lord we have concluded doing so, not however from 
the first consecutively to the last, according to the order 
we read them, but as I could, and as I was asked, did I 
expound them — Nahum, Micheas, Sophonias, and Aggeus. 
I dedicated them first to Paula, and to her daughter Eusto- 
chi'um, as lovers of work ; subsequently I dedicated two 
books upon Habacuc to Chromatius, Bishop of Aquileia. 
Then after a long silence, in the third instance, to you, who 
bade me do it, I expounded Abdias and Jonas. This present 
year, which for its glory is the sixth of the consulship of 
Arcadius Augustus and of Anicius Probus, I dedicate the 
Prophet Zacharias to Exuperius, Bishop of the Church of 
Tolosa ; and to two monks of the same city, Minnerius and 
Alexander, the Prophet Malachias ; and from thence I 
returned to the commencement of the book, when I felt un- 
able to deny you Osee, Joel, and Amos. After a very grave 
illness of my body, I manifested my boldness in the speed 
of my dictation, and in writing what others dared not to 
write, altering many times my pen and my style, I cast it to 
the wings of fate and to the mercy of the events which 
follow generally those who compose, dictating and putting 


to the test and place of danger both genius and doctrine ; 
because, as I have affirmed at other times, I can no longer 
bear the effort of writing with my own hand, and in the 
explanation of the sacred Scriptures pedantic words are 
not sought for, adorned with the flowers of oratory, but 
erudition and the simple truth." 

In the preface to the Commentary upon Abdias Jerome 
both excuses and accuses himself with a charming elegance 
for the daring he evinced in attempting a commentary 
upon that prophet, when a youth, when he neither knew 
what he was about nor had the spirit which so great 
an affair required. The Commentary upon Zacharias he 
likewise wrote off with extraordinary speed, as he himself 
tells us in the preface to those three books. The cause of 
this speed was due to Sisinius, the monk, who was sent by 
Exuperius, Bishop of Tolosa, to visit our holy doctor and 
other saintly men who dwelt in Egypt leading a monastic 
life. This Sisinius was very anxious to return, hence he 
urged upon our saint great speed ; nevertheless, this haste 
is not apparent in the Commentaries, for so great was his 
trust in the prayers of his servants to uphold him in all 
this, that, despite the haste and the speed, the work came 
forth very finished and perfect. As I have had already 
occasion to state before, the works of this man were 
offsprings, conceptions, and births produced by the power 
of prayer, and which before they come forth are over- 
shadowed by so happy a star that no adverse event can 
occur to them. If I am not in error, it is my belief that in 
many of these Commentaries the holy man had divine 
revelations and teachings from heaven. And lest any one 
should imagine that^€ am guessing, or that I advance 
some new ideas, let him listen to what he himself says in 
the preface to the Commentary upon Abdias, which I 
quoted just now. " When I was a child, I spoke as a child, 


I had knowledge as a child, and I thought as a child. 
When I became a man, I put away all I had of the boy. 
If the apostle feels that he is advancing and leaving behind 
him all the past, he stretches forth into the future, and, 
according to the precept of the Saviour, he put his hand 
to the plough and did not turn his head to look back, how 
much more I, who had not attained to the state of manhood 
nor to the measure of Christ ? I deserve pardon for in my 
youth, awakened to the desire of the holy Scriptures, I 
interpreted in an allegorical spirit, as I knew not the literal, 
Abdias the Prophet. My soul was fired with the mystic 
knowledge, and forasmuch as I had read that all things are 
possible to believers, not knowing that gifts are different, 
I, having attained secular learning, thought that thereby I 
could read the sealed book. Mad that I was ! The 
twenty-four ancients who held in their hands the vials of 
scented perfumes and the zithers, and the four living things 
full of eyes rise up from their thrones, and, confessing their 
insufficiency, sing the glories of the Lamb and the rod of 
the root of Jesse : to think that I could dare all I believed ! 
But the word of the Lord was not formed in my hand, nor 
could I say, From Thy Commandments I derived my know- 
ledge, nor did I call to mind that evangelical bliss — Blessed 
are the clean of heart, because they shall see God. My lips 
had not been purified by the burning coal from the altar, nor 
from my former inherited ignorance : I was not circumcised 
with the fire of the Divine Spirit, and yet I had the hardi- 
hood to say to the Lord, Here I am, send me ! " 

In this discourse St. Jerome, with admirable art, shows 
his great humility and the grandeur of the state he had come 
to, and it is one of the places which I have singled out 
to examine and investigate the character of St. Jerome ; 
since, when stating what was wanting to him, he really 
confesses what oh this point he possesses. Then he was 

2 K 


not purified by fire and the burning coal of the Divine 
Spirit, now he unconsciously says he is (or else he means 
nothing) very pure in heart, very learned in the divine 
precepts. Formerly he was journeying on, and had not 
arrived to the state of manhood, and he acknowledges him- 
self to be a boy ; now he says all this was the process of 
becoming formed, but now he has attained to the perfect 
age and the measure of the plenitude of Christ. He 
feels his heart to be already clean, he sees God, and with 
lips purified, and he is circumcised by a circumcision not 
effected by hands. Out of his many other writings we could 
take many notes ; but let us leave these in their proper places, 
especially those on the greater prophets, which he actually 
wrote in his old age. But here, however, before proceeding 
farther, since it appertains to the same epoch and to the 
ordinary exercises of his life in Bethlehem with his monks, 
I wish to speak in regard to the Commentaries on tke Psalms 
of David, which are found among his works, and investigate 
whether they be authentic. There have been among the 
learned men of our times various opinions : I say of our 
times, because those of earlier epochs did not draw 
things so finely, for they prided themselves as being 
philosophers rather than philologists. Some affirm, with 
many good reasons and conjectures, that these Commentaries 
are neither his, nor would it be well that they should be. 1 
They draw the reasons from the style of diction and erudi- 
tion, which in no one thing approaches Jerome ; indeed, 
these commentaries are unworthy of such a grand name. 
Who can fail to note, they say, that this exposition is far 
removed from St. Jerome, since, seemingly forgetful of 
history and of the literal sense, it is all made up of allegories 
and metaphors, bringing it all down to the mystical sense 

1 Sixtus Sen. 4. ; lib. Blbl. S. Eras., Bruno, et Melchior Canus, de locis, lib. 2, 
cap. 14. 


of Christ and of the Church, a thing very far from the 
taste and style of this great doctor, since for having first 
done so in his early youth in his Commentary on the Prophet 
Abdias, he himself derides his own work, as we have just 
seen ? To observe how forgetful they are of the Hebrew 
and Greek languages, and so unmindful of the other transla- 
tions, of which his writings are so full, is sufficient evidence 
that these are not his. The phrasing and manner of diction 
is far removed from his. Moreover, in Psalm 1 3 2 he mentions 
arid refers to a brother of his who was a layman, and the 
author, -of these Commentaries, whosoever he may have 
been, was certainly a monk, and we are not aware that 
the saint had any other brother but Paulinian, who at 
this epoch , had been already ordained priest by St. 
Epiphanius. From all these reasons and other minor 
conjectures it appears conclusive to them that these 
Commentaries were not Jerome's, but by some other monk 
of those times, who, by taking some portions from the 
writings of Origen, and by adding some others out of his 
own head, in the way of those who draw maps or give 
descriptions of the world, and who from what is extended 
and wide compress into a small piece of paper (for so 
does the owner of these Commentaries express it in the 
preface), so out of the wide range of Origen he gathered 
together this little map. 

Those who are of a contrary opinion, and ascribe it to 
St. Jerome, also bring forward very good reasons for 
their opinion. 1 In the first place, St. Augustine affirms he 
did write on the Psalms, as may be witnessed by his Epistle 
III. ; St. Gregory, Pope, affirms the same in the Fourth 
Penitential Psalm ; and the doctor, St. Jerome himself, in 
the third chapter on Habacuc says that sela means what the 
Septuagint translates as diapsalmon, which he has already 

1 Marian., In Censura ad 7 torn. Sculting, in principio confes. Hieronym. Lindam. 


declared extensively in the Psalms ; as is verified in the 
Fourth, where this is treated upon. And the doctor him- 
self treated on this more widely in an Epistle to Marcella ; * 
and it is a most grave argument for this side that the 
author of these Commentaries, when expounding in the 
Second Psalm the verse Apprehendite disciplinam, says as 
follows : " In the Hebrew it says in this wise, Adorate Filium 
[a clear prophecy of Christ] ne forte irascatur Dominus, 
Who is the Father." That this version and exposition are 
St. Jerome's is very certain, because he himself, in the 
first book against Rufinus, says in this wise, and, whereas 
it comes very opportunely, I will not omit to transcribe it : 
" They also say he reprehends (it is understood of Rufinus) 
him for declaring that in the Second Psalm, in place of what 
is commonly read Apprehendite disciplinam, I said in my 
Commentaries, Adorate Filium, and that subsequently, when 
translating into Latin from the Hebrew the whole Psalter, as 
though forgetting my first exposition, I said Adorate jmre, 
and that it is manifest to all that these things are among 
themselves quite opposed. Truly worthy is he of pardon, if 
he does not know the peculiarities of the Hebrew language, 
who sometimes makes a slip in the Latin tongue. The 
Hebrew word naschu, literally interpreted, sounds the same 
as kiss. I, in order not to translate it as this word, which 
would appear rather lascivious, translated it in the sense of 
adore, because those who worship usually kiss the hand 
and bow down the head ; hence Job always denies having 
ever done this to the elements or to idols, saying : ' If I 
saw the sun, when it shone, and the moon when it went on 
its course of light, and my heart was gladdened greatly in 
what was hidden, and I kissed my hand with my mouth — 
which is a great wrong, and a denial of the Highest God ' ; 
and the Hebrews, in the peculiarities of their language, 

1 Epist. 138. 


take the same sense of kissing as adoring, or reverencing, 
therefore I translated the text as they themselves understand 
it. In like manner is the word Bar a word of their own and 
it signifies diverse things. It means the same as Son, as for 
instance Bar Jona, which signifies Son of a Dove ; and 
Bartholomew, son of Ptholmeus, the same as Bar-Jew and 
Bar-abbas. It also signifies the grain of wheat, and the 
wheat sheaf; and likewise does it signify as though we 
should say Chosen-pure. Therefore, in what did I sin, if I 
translated the word diversely, which was pregnant and 
ambiguous ? And if in the Commentaries, where there is 
no liberty of speech, I said Adore the Son, and in the same 
volume of the Psalms, in order not to appear to give a 
forced interpretation, and afford a plea for the Hebrew to 
calumniate me, I said Adore purely and specially"? Like- 
wise did Aquila and Symmachus translate it. And what 
harm does it work to the faith of the Church that readers 
should learn here the many ways that a verse can be 
explained according to the Hebrew interpretation ? " 

All this is said by St. Jerome. He wished here to point 
out and for it to be observed by such as blindly speak evil 
of what they know not, and do not know the advantage the 
knowledge of the Hebrew tongue brings with it. What text 
is there stronger to prove against the Hebrews themselves 
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the plurality of 
Persons with and under the name and relationship of Father 
and the Son ? Moreover, there is drawn a very fine 
doctrine from this varied interpretation, and from many 
other texts and passages of equal weight, as we have more 
fully said when we treated upon the study St. Jerome 
made of this language. 

Returning to our purpose, it is seen that St. Jerome calls 
this exposition of the Psalms his, and twice in the same 
place. This is confirmed, because in the exposition of the 


First Psalm the author affirms that he had seen in the 
Bibliotheca Ccesariensis a copy of the Psalms by Origen (and 
there is no doubt that St. Jerome examined this library), 
which was written in his own handwriting, as is shown in 
the Fourth Psalm. The time at which the author of these 
Commentaries lived coincides very much with that of our 
saint, which was near the year 400 after our Lord's Re- 
demption, as appears in the 108th Psalm ; and St. Jerome 
himself, in the exposition of the third chapter of Osee, 
says that from the date of our Lord's Passion to that day 
there had passed little less than four hundred years. His 
profession and state of life concur and greatly favour this 
statement, because he was a monk like our saint. For 
so does he say in the Commentary on Psalms 119 and 
132 ; and St. Jerome's habit of quoting Aquila, Symmachus, 
Theodotian, and the Septuagint is not forgotten here. He 
also quotes, as he often does in other places, the fifth and 
sixth version. And it adds no small evidence, that in 
Psalm 133 this author should say that some fifteen or 
twenty years back the heretics were in possession of those 
buildings and walls ; hence it so happened that at this 
same time, and before our saint entered there, all that 
property was in the possession of the Arians. All these 
and other reasons greatly militate in favour of those who 
hold this opinion, and are convincing enough for me to 
hold them as his. 

As to the opinion to the contrary, it can be satisfied 
easily, because, if the style and phrasing may seem another's, 
it is not so different that they could not be his. In the 
first place he dictated it, or, as I imagine, it was the ordinary 
lesson he imparted daily to his monks at stated hours, as 
at times he has told us : hence, they are in the manner of 
homilies and prayers made in congregation ; and from this 
it came that it ended with the canonical hours, speaking to 


listeners and beseeching them, and ending the discourse 
as though by prayer. Of this same kind I am inclined to 
believe must have been the thirty homilies on St. Luke. 
And who does not know that this kind of style is very 
different from well - considered speech dictated with 
rhetorical care, and that the texts of Scripture which occur 
to the mind are interpreted sometimes one way and some- 
times in another. Moreover, it will be found that none of 
the holy doctors were always alike, and that what was 
expounded and explained in one sense here might on another 
occasion and to a different purpose be interpreted otherwise ; 
and that, if to-day he was in a certain mood, to-morrow 
perhaps he might feel in quite another, either for the 
better or not, or had forgotten the former one. And the 
Spirit of God, which oftentimes moved their tongues and 
pens to the profit of souls, opened the field for these varied 
senses and manner of interpreting. That Eucherius was 
contemporary with our saintly doctor there is no doubt, 
and even somewhat younger than St. Jerome might very 
well have been, and also in his old age he may have 
read what Eucherius wrote in his youth, as he read 
other things of St. Augustine, who was not older than 
Eucherius, and similarly to many others whom he did not 
include in the catalogue, because ever since the fourteenth 
year of the Empire of Theodosius and the year 392 after our 
Redemption, the date of the catalogue, until his death, many 
years elapsed. As to he who read to and discoursed with 
the religious, what more appropriate subject could he have 
chosen than to explain to them the Psalms in a spiritual 
and mystic sense, so as to afford them matter for holy 
thoughts and incentives to prayer ? And for the same 
reason there was no need for treating of the many versions 
and translations, although, as I have said, he did not 
altogether ignore them, since he selected the Vulgate version 


of the Septuagint as being well known to the monks and 
understood by them, thus assisting the memory and follow- 
ing the ordinary rule of the Church. As regards what is 
brought forward about a brother who was a layman, it does 
not add much force, because it might have been during the 
epoch before Paulinian was ordained, or he might have 
had a cousin or near relative whom he called brother, but 
of whom no occasion had arisen for making mention 
in his writings — a thing which is not of great account, since 
he never mentions his mother. Therefore it has always 
appeared to me that the greater probability lay in the 
verdict that these Commentaries should be admitted to 
be his. Furthermore, there is a good conjecture in the 
fact that in them no mention is made of heretics but 
such as had existed up to the time of St. Jerome, viz. 
Arians, Macedonians, Manicheans, Novatians, Marcionites, 
Eunomians, and others. Nor does he quote any authors but 
the usual ones — Origen, Lactantius, Hilary, and Josephus — 
in order to conclude all these objections with one more 
reason, and, as it were, finish the matter of evidence, so that, 
granted that the saint many times says that he wrote on 
the Psalms, and refers to this exposition when he speaks of 
them, as appears in Isaias and in the catalogue De viris 
illustribus and other parts, and that the exposition of these 
Commentaries agrees a thousand times with those he quotes 
in other places ; and, furthermore, that the author of this 
exposition dwelt in Bethlehem, was a monk and ex- 
pounded to monks, as appears in Psalm 95, and that 
it was written shortly after the Arians arose and close upon 
the year 400 of our Redeemer ; hence it was either Jerome 
who wrote them, or at least it was from these expositions 
that some daring person made them up — adding or subtract- 
ing the parts which are judged not to be of Jerome. 

I wish, nevertheless, to add a very telling conjecture 


about this, that granted, as we have proved above, that our 
doctor arranged and ordained the offices of the Church, 
and apportioned the Psalms for the week-days according as 
they agreed with the Mass, the man who should read this 
exposition, and find that it agreed beautifully with the other, 
and that it had all come out of the same workshop, and 
that these warnings and prayers which the saint puts at 
the end of the exposition of each Psalm, as an epitome of 
what he has said on the said Psalm, are very similar to 
what we call collects, and are used by the Church, and that, 
if not the same, they partake very largely of them : let 
this suffice to prove the case, for in my judgment, putting 
many other reasons aside, it seems to me of much weight. 
And so that this matter should be concluded in this Dis- 
course, let it be known that the Commentaries on the Book 
of Job which are found among the works of our saint are 
not acknowledged by learned men to be Jerome's, for the 
same reasons as have been alleged for those of the Psalms. 
The style, the phraseology, and the language are not at all 
equal to his ; the manner of commenting very different ; 
the chronology and the reasoning do not tally with 
those of St. Jerome : it is said they are rather like Bede, 
for many reasons. This is also my belief, and I agree with 
them, although I should not omit to repeat here the words 
of Cassiodorus, an author of that time, or about 559, in his 
book Of the Divine Lessons. He says as follows: "The 
Book of Job merited approbation on account of the diligence 
of St. Jerome, so cleverly translated into Latin, and so well 
commentated." And the same criticism does he pass on 
the exposition of the Proverbs of Solomon, which is also 
attributed to Bede, because he cites St. Gregory, Pope, in 
Chapter XXXI., and also St. Jerome in Chapter XXX., and 
St. Augustine in Chapter VI. The Commentaries on the 
Thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, which are likewise found in- 


eluded among his works, are, by common consent, excluded 
unquestionably, because- they are not worthy of so noble a 
master. These are undoubtedly the work of some Pelagian, 
because in the Epistle to the Romans, in the first to the 
Corinthians, in that to the Philippians, and the one to 
Timothy, there are many Pelagian propositions. Hence, 
let this be here declared once and for all. It has been the 
fate of all the holy doctors, and the ancient fathers (as we 
have touched upon already), that they all suffered shipwreck 
in their works ; many indeed were lost, and the gap was 
filled up in this rich merchandise by the substitution of 
much foolish writing, the outcome of great audacity, which 
usurped their great names, and thus imposed upon us as 
though ignorant and blind, that we should be unable 
to distinguish alchemy from true gold, nor the light of a 
single candle from that of the mid-day sun ! One of those 
who most suffered on this point was St. Jerome, yet it 
was in him that the disguise was soonest revealed, his 
genius and his style being so extraordinary that some one 
might deem that he could imitate him, but it would happen 
to such an one, as the poet tells us, 

. . . ut sibi quivis 
Speret idem, sudet multum frustraque laboret : 
Ausus idem, tantum series juncturaque poller.. 1 

Many sought to imitate him, and thought to succeed 
with the same ,- they laboured in vain, because his manner 
of binding together sentences and words is a thing few 
can do : some little thing they imitated deceived them. 
So greatly was this assisted by the ignorance of the 
times, that many of those who were to give sentence 
followed the current and gave authority to falsehood, 
and even at this present day some are vexed if a single 

1 Hor., in Arte Poet. 


page is touched of what is bound between the boards, so 
long as it is entitled with the august name of Jerome, not 
looking to the effect but to the censor, to the contrary of 
Jesus Christ. One of the things that prudent comment- 
ators call in question at first is the title of the work, and then 
the name of the author ; for even in the Sacred Letters, 
although there is but one author of them all, which is the 
Holy Ghost, the commentators demand who was the author : 
whether it was Moses who wrote the Book of Job ; whether 
Samuel the two first Books of Kings ; and if Solomon 
wrote that of Wisdom : how much more so in the case of 
those who have not so sovereign an origin. And they 
have good reason for this, especially in the books of the 
doctors and fathers of the Church, upon the concordance 
and harmony of which depend so many and such grave 
things ; hence must these be viewed with many eyes, as 
regards their titles, in order that their works be not admitted 
as those of saints, which in truth are <not worthy of such 
greatness. Many authors kept back their names in the 
books they wrote for many reasons : sometimes through 
humility, like the one who wrote the book on the chief 
virtues of Christ, addressed to St. Cornelius, Pope, because 
the author himself says so; and, as it was seen later that when 
St. Cyprian at times wrote to St. Cornelius the people at 
once gave out the book to be St. Cyprians. Other authors 
do not wish to put a name, in order to see with greater 
freedom what opinion the world forms of their books, like 
Apelles behind the board. St. Gregory Nazianzen, in the 
preface to his book, De Fide, says he persuaded a friend of 
his to remove the title of the author, and read it out to some 
persons, in order to see what they thought of it, and amend 
what good judges should find fault with. Others disguise 
their name because they feel the work would not be well 
received if the name of the author were made known, and 


for this reason does St. Jerome say that St. Paul omitted 
his in the Epistle to the Hebrews, who were his brethren, 
knowing that they were so ill-disposed towards him for 
having left Judaism, and that, on finding his name attached 
to it, they would refuse to read what was of such importance 
to them ; hence many thought that Epistle was the work of 
St. Barnabas, or one of the other apostles. Others, again, 
omit their name so as not to anger those they touch, and 
thus remove envy and hatred, since these might judge 
the books were written against them purposely ; and this 
is declared by St. Jerome in the dialogues against the 
Pelagians, where he puts in the names of Critobulus and 
Atticus, so that no individual should feel he was attacking 
them. Others, again, who feel that their own work is of small 
importance, oftentimes done at the pleadings of friends, who 
have little experience, do not wish to put their name, and later 
on those who succeed them put on any name they fancy. 
Others, to avoid vainglory, like Salvianus Massiliensis, 
entitled their books Pareneticos, under the nom deplume of 
Timothy ; and Vincentius of Lerins called his book against 
the heresies Peregrinus, to charm with this name the 
heretics themselves, who loved singular things. Others 
would write solely as an exercise, and put no name, because 
there was nothing solid or meant in earnest : they were 
called progymnasmata, these said writings, which were 
literary ventures previous to the formal ones. Of this 
kind many think, and not unduly, are the dialogues of 
Augustine and Orosius upon Genesis ; and among the 
Gentiles the Epistles of Phalaris of Agrigentum, and the 
Epistle of Brutus ; and even those between Seneca and 
Paul. Some ignorantly believe that they are the works 
of those whose names are assumed in these exercises. All 
these reasons for concealing names are proper and fair, and 
such as did not understand them ascribed names to them 


as best pleased their fancy, according as they thought they 
detected some similarity to those authors ; more especially 
was this done at the commencement, when they fell into the 
hands of copyists who were of small learning, had little 
experience, and less reading of various authors. Other 
causes, less good, for disguising names of the writers existed, 
such as hoaxing the readers and deceiving them, by making 
them read childish things under the name of grave authors. 
And even worse reasons existed, for they wrote to scatter 
errors and instil the poison of malice in golden cups. At the 
beginning of the Church much of this came forth : from this 
flowed those spurious gospels spoken of above by our saint, 
ascribed to Bartholomew, Thomas, Philip, and others, the 
invention of the Manichees, who assumed the names of 
those apostles in order to effect the deception. 

There are many other causes for the falseness of those 
titles, but it would be too long for us to linger over them 
now. The manner of knowing them we have well-nigh 
revealed, when stating the reasons we have alleged, in order 
to know whether the works that are put forward and which 
we have examined of St. Jerome be his or not ; the first and 
principal one being the style and phraseology, for there 
is no better loadstone to discover their genuineness than 
this. After this, the time, the place, the circumstances of 
the person, the authors quoted, the doctrine advanced, if it 
be coherent and alike, the heresies which are reprobated, 
and a number of other conjectures, so that it is well-nigh 
impossible for one who issues lies to observe them all. 


Account of what happened to St. Jerome with a Lion in the 
Bethlehem Monastery. Ordination of his Brother 
Paulinus. Disputes that arise between St. Jerome 
and John of Jerusalem. 

A life of St. Jerome is found among the works of our 
learned doctor by an anonymous writer of the class 
described in the former discourse, although some authority 
might be assigned to it on account of its antiquity, since 
for some hundreds of years it has been in such good 
company. In it is found related in detail that on one day 
when, as was usual to St. Jerome, he was conversing with 
his monks on the sacred Scriptures and reading to them his 
daily lesson, there entered the monastery (which, in truth, 
could not have many closed doors) a ferocious lion, limping 
on three feet, holding up the fourth paw as though in pain 
and unable to set it on the ground. The monks, full of 
terror at the sight of the wild beast, fled in all direc- 
tions, where each judged best to be out of danger. Our 
holy Father, however, approached, without manifesting fear, 
the formidable lion, which lifted up its foot higher to have 
it inspected. The saint took up the proffered paw between 
his hands, and, on carefully examining it, found that 
a long splinter had pierced it through. He gently drew 
it out, and applied to the wound what he judged would 


relieve the pain. The royal beast manifested its grateful- 
ness for the good deed done by becoming quite tame and 
meek, and showing pleasure in remaining in the company 
of the religious. When the monks witnessed this, they 
lost all fear of the lion, and approached trustfully to him, 
while the lion on its part rubbed his head against them, 
quite pleased and happy at being among them. Here the 
author describes the saint as consulting with his monks 
how best to employ their new guest, so that he should not 
be idle, and proceeds to relate that it was decided in 
chapter to impose the task on the lion of keeping guard 
over the donkey which was employed there to bring daily 
from the forests the load of wood needed for the service 
of the monastery. The lion used to lead the donkey to 
the fields and woods in the morning, and conduct it back 
in the evening, and, as the task was not a severe one, the 
lion easily fulfilled it. One day, while waiting for the 
donkey to return, the lion overslept himself, and, while 
he slept, some traders passed that way from Syria to 
Egypt with their caravan of oil and merchandise, and, 
meeting the donkey alone, judged it had no owner, and 
led it away to serve as guide for their loaded camels. 
Later in the day the lion awoke. It was long after the 
caravan and men had passed on with the donkey. The 
lion sought for his companion everywhere, but could not 
find it, and, after searching fruitlessly for the poor ass, the 
lion had to return to the monastery, sad and cast down, 
as though quite ashamed of himself. The monks, who 
saw him return alone without his companion, suspected 
that, harassed by hunger (because the ration of food given 
him was not large), he had eaten up the little donkey, and 
they treated him roughly, upbraiding him, and refusing 
even to give the small ration allowed him daily, telling 
him to go back and finish what he had left of the donkey. 


St. Jerome, however, took pity on the lion in his disgrace, 
and bade the monks give him his food, and not ill-treat 
him, and, as a penance for his wrong -doing, to take 
the lion to the forest every day, and make him bring the 
load of wood which his companion the ass should have 
brought. This was done, and daily, with, great meekness 
and patience, did the lion bear his humiliation, for it was 
in truth a great come-down for a lion to be used as a 

According to this author, God assisted him, and gave 
him the instinct one day to sally forth to the fields, after he 
had performed his allotted task. Good luck brought back 
the ass and the camels, for the traders were returning by 
that way with their caravan. The lion, on perceiving 
this, bounded with joy, and, coming towards the caravan 
unperceived, uttering a terrific roar, which resounded far 
and near, infused such fright and terror into the men that 
they fled to hide themselves, leaving the loaded camels 
and the ass in the fields. The lion then joyfully led the 
donkey and the camels with their loads to the monastery. 
The monks greatly marvelled at this return, and discovered 
how the donkey had been stolen, and that the lion was inno- 
cent of the charge imputed to him of having destroyed the 
poor ass. Shortly after this the traders themselves appeared 
at the monastery. They asked pardon for the theft of 
the ass, and offered in reparation a part of the oil they 
were bringing. The saint forgave them, and they de- 
parted on their way. The event itself I hold to be true, 
despite that the author relates it in a somewhat childish 

Thus it occurs in many of the miracles of the saints that, 
through being narrated by ignorant men, they have been 
ridiculed and thought unworthy of belief, more especially 
among persons of small piety who are poorly instructed 


and deny everything, ever seeking occasion to cast con- 
tempt upon any occurrence, even attempting to deny the 
miracles and signs of Christ, which prove and confirm His 
evangelical doctrine, in the first place, and, secondly, the 
authority of His ministers and the respect due to them, to 
whom He promised that they should perform greater 
marvels than He Himself had done. These are the reasons 
for the performance of miracles, and which these apostates 
of the faith would obscure, if they could. There are pious 
Catholics who declare that this event did not happen to 
our saint, but to the saintly Abbot Gerasimus, who dwelt 
near the shores of the Jordan, of whom Sophronius, 
in his Pratum spirituale, recounts a similar case, 1 and 
it appears that, as no grave author made any mention 
of it, nor does Jerome himself speak of it in his writings, 
as well as the similarity of the names Gerasimus and 
Jerome, he may have been mistaken for the other ; 
moreover, that in Bethlehem and its surroundings there 
are no lions, and that about the Jordan they are found ; 
and thus this event did not happen to Jerome, but to 
Gerasimus, or that, at least, it remains doubtful. This may 
be pardoned them if it remains no further than a doubt, 
and they do not altogether deny it, because, in the 
narratives of the saints, and more especially in saints of 
such early date, many things may be doubtful, but the 
reasons they would allege for their doubt are of in- 
sufficient force to upset a fact so universally received, and 
acknowledged throughout the world, as for many ages 
before our time St. Jerome was always depicted with the 
lion as a natural emblem, for in truth the faithful would 
not believe it to be the saint without the lion, nor would 
know him to be St. Jerome. Indeed this has been so 
widely received that it has become the device and symbol 

1 Basil. Sanct. in Sanctorali, et alii. 

2 L 


of the saint. St. Jerome has in himself and all his affairs 
such force and a vigour so native, accompanied by so wide 
and generous a heart, that with nothing else could all 
this be so well signified as by a lion. Moreover, he is 
so terrible and fearless, when proceeding against pagans, 
heretics, Jews, false Christians, and, indeed, against all 
the enemies of Christ, that no greater could have been 
the terror and astonishment of those who stole the gentle 
donkey when they heard the terrible roar of the natural 
lion, than the terror inspired in the hearts of all those 
above mentioned men by the fearless writings and words 
of the mystic doctor. That neither the saintly doctor nor 
any other author of name should have recorded this case 
could hardly be a reason for marvelling. This is not an 
event St. Jerome would have taken any notice of, nor 
have ascribed to anything out of the common but a thing 
which had naturally occurred. We have not other authors 
to recount this, nor even many other affairs of greater im- 
portance, because none of the people of those times under- 
took to write his life, although many saints and grave 
men were not slow in lauding up to the skies his works ; 
and this would not be a thing to write about, unless when 
writing his life in detail. Whether Eusebius of Cremona 
did so or not, remains yet to be found out. At least I 
have my private opinion that it is certain that the life 
wherein this event is narrated in detail was not his, nor 
-sould he have been a disciple of so great a doctor who 
was a man of so ordinary a stamp. The Sophronius who, 
we said, recounts this event as applying to Gerasimus, 
Abbot, flourished about the year 780. He was present at 
the second Nicene Council, being Patriarch of Jerusalem, 
and he declared in his book, which he entitled Pratum 
spirituale, that he himself heard the story recounted by 
the disciples of Gerasimus, who actually witnessed it. 


Hence it appears that this marvel (if such we are to call it) 
occurred more than three hundred years after the time of 
our holy doctor. And why should not a case of this kind 
have occurred to both saints in different epochs ? Have 
we not seen similarly singular cases occur ? We find 
among the Gentiles that such like cases have occurred 
with lions. Pliny tells of a slave in Rome called 
Andronius, one of those brought into slavery from the 
wars of Dacia, that when, as a fugitive, he lay hidden in 
the deserts, he extracted a thorn from a most ferocious 
lion, and for this benefit the animal became so friendly and 
loyal that, when this same slave on a future occasion was 
brought to Rome, and condemned to be cast with the lions 
into the arena, the hapless Andronius, placed there in 
the amphitheatre, met this same lion, which had been 
captured along with other wild beasts and set there ; he 
recognised Andronius, and not only did the lion do him no 
harm, but he actually carried the man quietly away and 
safely landed him outside the dangerous place. This case 
is well known to all, and there is no cause for us to linger 
over it. 

By other authors, 1 a similar case is recounted of 
Mentor, a native of Sicily, who drew a thorn out of 
another lion, and the beast was likewise grateful to him. 
Of Elpius, Samius narrates a similar thing. Thus is seen 
that these cases have been of frequent occurrence, and 
therefore it does not militate against Jerome that it should 
in like manner have occurred to Gerasimus. Hence the 
one rather proves the possibility of the others. The 
lion, as it has a generous heart, is grateful for benefits 
received, because it appertains only to low and brutal hearts 
to be ungrateful, such as are the wolves and the foxes, and 
men who boast to have these low conditions of cruelty are 

1 Raubisius. 


ungrateful, who only seek their own interest. I myself 
have had experience of them. On the contrary, the lion 
(a proper symbol of great princes and magnanimous men) 
has no enmity to man ; it can easily be domesticated, and, 
when tenderly treated, altogether loses its fury. That 
which has been advanced that in Bethlehem there are no 
lions, and that they exist on the Jordan and along its 
banks, appears to proceed rather from a limited know- 
ledge of the sacred Scriptures, for when these writers 
forget all other cases they should surely remember that 
David vaunted he had killed a lion whilst tending his 
father's flocks on the Mountains of Bethlehem, 1 thus 
clearly proving they were often assailed by them, and by 
the bears, which frequented those parts. For the manner 
of speaking of David teaches us so. The strong Banaias 
killed another lion which had on the occasion of a great 
snowfall pitched into a pit, either from excess of thirst 
or unconsciously, in that locality, and the holy Scriptures 
say 2 that this was a specially fierce lion, giving us to 
understand that, although there were others, yet none 
more daring or bolder — in the same way as the boar of 
Arcadia and the lion of the Idean forest were renowned 
among the Gentiles. And when the Patriarch Jacob 
called his son Judas lion, it was also an allusion that in the 
portion given to him of the land promised by God there 
were many lions, and Bethlehem was included in that 
portion, as in the same sense he told him of the abundance 
of milk and wine declared above. That mountainous 
district, adapted for the pasture of cattle and flocks, 
is, as a consequence, the resort of wild beasts, which 
find prey there. From this comes that careful watching 
of the flocks over which the Evangelist says 3 the shep- 
herds were keeping guard, watching in turns by hours, 

1 I Reg. xvii. 34. 2 Paral. xi. 22. 3 Luke ii. 8. 


which are called vigils, divided according to the four 

They were very near Bethlehem in that part, which is 
called Tamer of the flock, as we have already mentioned. 
From all this is seen that there is no reason for being 
carried away by such trifling conjectures, and placing in 
doubt a fact so universally received as this — that, be- 
cause the thing happened to Gerasimus, it could not be 
true also of Jerome. By the same rule they would say 
that, whereas bees were seen coming and going out of 
the mouth of St. Ambrose when a child, it could not be 
true in regard to St. Isidore and others. 

I believe, also, that our Lord ordained this with 
a purpose — to give us to understand by it the worth 
of His holy doctor, and it was His wish that St. Jerome 
should be seen accompanied by the lion, similarly as St. 
John with the lamb. The strength of the one animal and 
the meekness of the other are two things very proper to 
Christ. And this portion fell to Jerome to be repre- 
sented thus. Wisdom tells us that the lion is the 
strongest of all the animals, and does not fear confronting 
any other, nor does it ever turn its back upon others — a thing 
which was proved always as a characteristic of this saint, 
since, in the number and variety of the encounters he had 
during his long life, never did they succeed in making him 
turn aside from following the path of his highest aims. 
The Hebrew language, which, as has been already said, is 
the mother of all others, gives the same name to the lion 
as to the heart, to demonstrate that in the same way as 
the lion among beasts is the most fearless and strongest, 
so in like manner in the animal part of man the heart is the 
seat of power and principle of life. Among the saintly doctors 
of the Church Jerome appears as the lion whereupon all 
may rest, and from whom depends the principles and 


well-spring of holy doctrine, forasmuch as his whole life 
was employed in giving us clearly and purely the force and 
truth of the doctrine of the holy Scriptures, which with 
such good reason is styled The Book of Life. Here also 
is discerned the reason why God ordered that the high 
priest was to carry the breastplate on his breast, where the 
heart has its seat. On it were placed the twelve stones 
engraved with the names of the twelve tribes, because all 
rest on the heart of the doctors of the Church. The 
Scriptures in the original language use the word leb in that 
text, which is nearly the same as lion, because not only 
from it is virtue communicated to the people depending on 
it, but also because the hearts of the doctors constitute 
the common defence and terror of the enemies ; for, where 
it is necessary, to God himself must they manifest 
resistance, as was done by Phinees and Moses, who kept 
back divine wrath. His Divine Majesty takes delight 
that there should be such saintly men, who in this holy 
manner dared to do so. The greatness of St. Jerome 
and his noble courage gives us permission thus to speak. 

But let us revert to the thread and discourse of his 
affairs, because for so fully admitted a subject as the 
above what has been said in defence suffices. At this 
epoch the sad news arrived at Bethlehem of the entry 
of the barbarian Goths, Genseric and Radagasus, into 
Dalmatia and Pannonia. We have already alluded to the 
cruel devastation which they effected in those provinces 
in the words of our saint. Scarcely any living thing was 
left ; even the very birds of the air were destroyed. Our 
man of God grieved with tender feeling ; in his heart he 
seriously judged this to be a punishment from heaven 
for their barbarous customs their receiving the cruel lash 
of these uncouth men. As from many divers parts of 
the world saintly men had flocked to Bethlehem, together 


with devout ones, and those who were desirous of im- 
proving themselves in the school of this great doctor, 
Jerome found himself pressed and constrained on all sides, 
for he had not the courage to dismiss them, nor had he 
the means to support them. It occurred to him, then, to 
send his brother Paulinian to his own country and lands, to 
dispose of the towns and personal inheritance which 
might have escaped the fury of the barbarian Goths, in order, 
with the result of the sale, to enable him to finish 
the monastery which had been commenced, and, if possible, 
enlarge the buildings, so as to be able to shelter the devout 
flock that came seeking him. This is related by the 
saint himself 1 in the Epistle to Pammachius, towards the 
end, and in another Epistle 2 to Rufinus he says that 
his brother Paulinian had not yet returned from the 
journey, and thinks that very probably he may have met 
him in Aquileia, where the holy bishop Chromatius, his 
friend, resided. On the return of his brother with what 
had resulted from the sale of the aforesaid possessions, 
the building was finished, yet not so costly as convenient, 
and adapted to the holy purpose intended. Paulinian 
was a man of exalted virtue, and, I doubt not, also very 
learned, and held in high esteem in those parts, beloved 
most especially by St. Epiphanius, who could not do 
without him. Hence when he attained the proper age, 
which was thirty, he at once ordained him priest, 
since he was already a deacon. Thus he kept him at his 
side all to himself. Orders were conferred on Paulinian 
in a monastery which lay in the limits of Eleutheropolis. 
All this was against the will of the holy youth, and it 
became necessary, so to say, to order him silence, 
and, as it were, compel him to obey. The resistance he 
offered was to conjure them by the name of Jesus Christ 

1 Epist. 26. 2 Epist. 56. 


not to ordain him ; and his appeal was so strong that 
they dared not act to the contrary. So that Paulinian 
should desist, the holy Epiphanius ordered his deacons 
and presbyters to cover up his mouth, both when 
conferring the order of deacon, and when consecrating 
him to the priesthood. All this is stated in detail 
by the saintly Bishop of Cyprus in an epistle he 
wrote to John, Bishop of Jerusalem, wherein he mani- 
fests the great virtue, humility, and perfection of 

After this time the said Bishop of Jerusalem took occa- 
sion to break with Epiphanius and Jerome. Both these had 
with great good reason, as we shall see, pointed him out 
as an Origenist and a man of unsound doctrine. In order 
to revenge himself, and divert the cause of this enmity 
to another part, he said that Epiphanius had ordained 
Paulinian within his own diocese against his will. And, 
forasmuch as it is imperative to solve this point clearly 
and distinctly, it must first be adverted that this John of 
Jerusalem was a monk, and was infected with the heresy 
of the Macedonians. Impelled by the hope of obtaining 
the bishopric, he left that heresy and entered upon the 
dignity he craved on the death of Cyril, who, as our saint 
says in the work De viris illustribus, died in the eighth 
year of the reign of the Emperor Theodosius, and that 
of our Lord 386. John entered the bishopric, being the 
second of the name in that chair. He did not succeed the 
good Cyril either in faith or good customs ; rather to the con- 
trary, he reverted to his first belief, although he changed 
his error. In the time of the Emperor Valens, following 
and communicating with Arians and Macedonians, he perse- 
cuted Christians and Catholics, as the doctor himself says 
in an epistle, 1 and, after becoming bishop, he persecuted 

1 Epist. 62. 


as Origenists the saintly men Epiphanius, Jerome, and 
Theophilus, doing all in his power, without losing an 
occasion, with what forces he had at command, as well as 
those of others, to molest them. The subject of complaint 
he urged was that St. Epiphanius had conferred holy 
orders within his own diocese, without obtaining his license, 
and without giving him notice of such intended orders. 
Moreover, that Paulinian was a youth and not of age to be 
ordained priest ; and that both the one thing and the other 
were against the canons and ordinances of the Church. He 
also complained that these men divided the Church and 
made schism, both he and St. Jerome, and that besides 
this Epiphanius held him in such bad repute that in 
his church he had enjoined in the mass to pray to God for 
John of Jerusalem, to give him a good understanding in 
the things of faith. All these complaints did he publish 
against Epiphanius and Jerome. These saintly men replied 
that in none of these had he reason : firstly, because the 
monastery wherein the holy orders had been conferred did 
not belong to his jurisdiction, nor to the Church of Jerusa- 
lem, but to the Church of Eleutheropolis, which is founded 
at the base of Mount Libanus ; secondly, that Paulinian 
was of ripe age for receiving holy orders, for he was thirty 
years old, which age is held of sufficient maturity even for 
a bishop, much more for receiving the dignity of the 
priesthood, since he, John, had not attained that age when 
he was made bishop. As regards the division in the 
Church which he complained of, that it was not they who 
had caused any such, but he himself, for he had declared 
them under 1 excommunication, and furthermore placed 
under the same ban any who would hold Paulinian to be a 
priest. In regard to their praying for him, never had 
Epiphanius named him or singled him out in the Church 
treacherously, but only had he remonstrated and renewed his 


prayer, pleading to God for all, according as it was proper 
to end with divine words the concluding clauses of the 
prayer. But all these reasons and replies were of no avail, 
despite that they were good and evident, to cure his malice, 
because it was not on this account, nor was it this which 
had hurt him ; hence, making use of the power which as a 
bishop was vested in him, and the favour of the princes, 
he first of all excommunicated all clergy and subjects who 
maintained that Paulinian was a priest, and then sent letters 
throughout the world to sow complaints and grievances ; 
he wrote to Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, he wrote 
to Rome, and he wrote to the Emperors, and he even 
obtained leave to exile St. Jerome, together with his 
monks, on whom, by reason of the monastery of Bethlehem 
standing in the diocese of Jerusalem, the chief part of the 
excommunication fell, because the monks could not in any 
way declare or hold Paulinian to be other than a priest. 
He used to come and converse with them, and say 
mass there, feeling secure of the wrath of the wicked 
bishop not touching him, since he was a subject of 
Epiphanius, and lived under his rule. And, although the 
censure of excommunication, owing to being so wrong, 
unjust, and, moreover, pronounced by a man whose faith 
was so suspicious, did not in truth affect the monks, nor 
had they anything to fear — rather by that path they 
attained to that blessing pronounced by Him who 
said, Blessed are ye when they shall revile thee for 
My sake — nevertheless, St. Jerome and his monks, like 
holy men, full of fear and obedient to the Church, abstained 
from entering the holy places and from communicating with 
the faithful. Hence Jerome was absent from his beloved 
crib ; and he would gaze and contemplate it from the out- 
side, though in truth his spirit and soul were within, and 
from thence adored it, as in other times David, the holy 


king, had done, when flying away from Saul, and yet 
sighed for the House of the Lord. 

And so bitter did the hatred conceived in the breast 
of the wicked prelate become (for the exercise of our 
glorious Father) that he prevailed on the Emperor 
Theodosius to order the exile of Jerome and his monks, 
but by the Divine Will the order was of no effect, because, 
on the Emperor more fully investigating the case and 
obtaining further information, he revoked the order given. 
Now the Count Archelaus, a pious, learned, and saintly 
man, interposed as a third, in order to effect peace between 
Epiphanius and Jerome on the one part and the Bishop 
of Jerusalem on the other. This Count, as is gathered 
from the historians of that time, was proconsul of that 
province, sent by the Emperor. The place of meeting 
was arranged, but John, the bishop, did not dare to make 
an appearance, excusing himself with trifling reasons. 
Thus peace remained in abeyance. The Count wrote to 
him many times, begging him to come, for they were 
awaiting him, but without result, and he was never able 
to force him to make an appearance. Then did his 
malice become clearly manifest. He wrote to Theophilus, 
the Patriarch of Alexandria, a very long letter, quite out- 
side the purpose, attempting to cover and disguise what 
he was accused of. Theophilus, somewhat convinced by 
the letter, sent out a monk called Isidore, who was a man 
of authority, to arrange and restore Jerome and his monks 
to the friendship and obedience of the bishop, and upon 
this affair he likewise wrote to our saint. Jerome replied 
with great humility, manifesting how great was his own 
desire for that peace which he urged, but that it must be a 
true peace and not founded on malice, nor one that would 
imperil the things of the faith and the good doctrines of the 
Catholic Church. Jerome discovered to him in this letter 


the secret of this case, and gave Theophilus clearly to 
understand that the causes of the enmity and dissension 
were not in respect to Paulinian ; that it was not on that 
point that the question depended, but because he had 
accused him of being an Origenist, and a man who main- 
tained the errors of Origen. He revealed to him eight 
manifest pernicious errors which were upheld by the 
Bishop of Jerusalem. 

Theophilus thus having been enlightened and in the 
end fully convinced, began to give up his friendship and 
to favour the cause of Epiphanius and Jerome. The 
falsehood having thus been revealed and made clear, John 
was held in suspicion, and the monks of Palestine kept 
aloof from communicating with him, as he was held by all 
as a heretic, and as one excommunicated, for he had dared 
to silence and lay hands on two such great men as 
Epiphanius and Jerome, calling one senile and without 
judgment, and the other he had dared to excommunicate. 
In this affair St. Jerome manifested himself to be a brave 
and courageous lion, because, on points of faith and in all 
that touched good doctrine and the integrity of the Church, 
whatsoever would cross his path he would attack with a 
brave heart, and resist like a noble lion, and tear to pieces. 
All threats and dangers that presented themselves to 
him could not for a single moment inspire fear ; he was 
never cowed by the wrath or by the power of him who 
was his own prelate, when he perceived that he was not 
his legitimate superior in the faith. Neither excom- 
munication nor persecution, nor finding himself deprived 
of his beloved crib and of approaching the holy altar, nor 
his humiliation and painful exile — none of these did he 
esteem as anything in comparison to turning his face 
against, or to deviating from even one of the smallest 
points of the fidelity due by him to the Church. 


All this we have stated in a cursory manner, so to say, 
in order that it should be understood what the course was 
of these disputes ; for the fidelity of history demands that 
all should be seen qualified, and with that certitude which 
is in reason. Let us hear the saint himself, in the letter he 
wrote to Pammachius in respect to the errors of the said John 
of Jerusalem, forasmuch as his complaints reached Rome, 
and the things he stated against Epiphanius and Jerome 
were scattered, and he had favourers, more especially 
authorised by Melania, Rufinus, and others, who had 
many adherents in Rome and who favoured him. On this 
being witnessed by Pammachius, he very soon urgently 
enjoined on our holy doctor to write and state the case 
very carefully, and make the truth of the matter known. 
I will here transcribe the points of this epistle, which more 
especially relate to the case, in order that this discourse 
be better understood. Among other things it states as 
follows : " I will not consent, nor wish that in a case of 
suspicion of heresy any one should exercise patience, so that 
it be overlooked, and this dissimulation be not remarked by 
such as know not their ignorance by default of their proper 
conscience." He proceeds 1 to recount after this one 
by one all the errors, the chief being, first, that our souls 
are in our bodies as in a prison ; that they were created 
before God formed man in Paradise, and that they were 
above amid the angels in heaven, and I know not for what 
demerits God exiled them in these bodies, as in a prison- 
house. After this, secondly, he says that devils will at 
some time or other do penance (which thing never occurred 
to them), and will come to reign with the saints in heaven. 
The third was most perverse of all : he denies the resur- 
rection of the flesh, and the distinction of sex, and that 
they would have bodies in the other life, but not of flesh, 

1 Epist. 61, ad Pamach. 


but a class of aerial or celestial bodies, with no distinction 
of sex, and other such like absurdities, all drawn from the 
evil doctrine of Origen. After detailing them all our 
holy doctor tells him as follows : " Do you wish to know 
how great is the fervour of good believers ? " Listen to 
what the apostle says : " If I or any angel from heaven 
should preach a gospel otherwise than I have preached the 
gospel to you, let him be anathema, or excommunicated." 
A little farther on he adds : " I tell you in truth, were I,to 
hear such things as these said by my father, mother, or 
brethren, like to a raving dog I would fly at their mouths 
and tear them asunder, and I should be the first to place 
my hands on them." Those who would say (says God in 
Deuteronomy) to their father and to their mother, / know 
you not, would have fulfilled the will of God. 1 " He who 
loveth father or mother more than Christ is not worthy of 
Christ." 2 How Jerome here manifests his vivid faith ! What 
a holy impatience does he show concerning false doctrine and 
bad Christians, deceitful, and artful, and cunning ! Farther 
on, as a consequence of this, he says, speaking with Pam- 
machius, and with whoever should read the letter : " I will 
briefly declare what Origen and his followers feel on the 
Resurrection. You cannot comprehend the power of the 
medicine, if you do not penetrate the malice of the poison. 
Seek attentively, and turn again to read, and count up how, 
naming nine times the resurrection of the body, he never 
says that of the flesh, and thus hold from henceforth as 
suspicious what he with so much artfulness has passed 
over. This is all the reason [he says this, assuming he 
speaks with Origen and with John of Jerusalem] why in 
your declaration of faith, in order to deceive the ears 
of the ignorant, you said nine times body, and not once 
flesh, so that they should think that body and flesh be all 

1 Deut. xxxiii. 2 Matt. xx. 


one thing ; and hence you will say when you are challenged : 
I spoke simply; I thought that it was all one, body and 
flesh. One thing is flesh, and another is body : it may 
well be the body aerial or celestial, although flesh must 
have blood, veins, bones, and nerves. Body is the sun and 
the moon, the stars, fire and water. Do you see, then, 
how we penetrate your apparent subtleties, such as you 
discuss in secret in your corners ? Then understand that 
in the symbol of our faith and hope (taught from the 
apostles, not written on paper with ink, but in the tables 
of our hearts of fiesh)'after the confession of faith, of trinity 
of persons, and of the unity of the Church, the whole 
sacrament of the Christian doctrine is enclosed in the 
resurrection of the flesh ; yet you never mention flesh, but 
nine times body. And the apostle, speaking to the Colos- 
sians, when teaching that the body of Jesus Christ is not 
aerial, spiritual, or subtle, but of flesh, spoke significantly, 
saying : ' And you, having been sometime withdrawn from 
Christ and enemies of what He desires (by reason of your 
bad works), reconciled and joined together by His death 
in the body of His flesh.' " And farther down he repeats 
the same. 

St. Jerome treats of this point very exhaustively, 
revealing the malice of the adversary, and confirming 
the doctrine of the faith, like a most grave doctor, in a 
most profound and learned manner, in the course of which 
he touches upon divine and hidden mysteries, which it 
grieves me much that space does not allow me to 
develop. In order to understand the proposition, what 
has been adduced suffices, because in this example 
is comprehended the line he followed in regard to 
the other errors, confuting, undoing them, and teaching 
true doctrine, clearness, and dexterity. The bishop, John 
of Jerusalem, always maintained that the contention was 


not on things of faith, but because of the breach Jerome 
effected in the ordinances and canons of the Church, who 
formed another head within his bishopric ; and he would 
not therefore consent to this division and schism. He was 
very anxious to exaggerate this, in order to divert them 
from the point ; but he was contending with one who 
understood him well. Jerome replies to him, driving him 
closely without repeal and without evasion, saying : "If the 
cause of the disagreement does not depend on differences 
of faith- but on the holy orders conferred on Paulinian, as 
he says, it is a great folly not to reply to those who afford 
him the occasion. Confess simply the faith, and reply to 
what you are asked in order that it be made manifest that 
faith is not the question of dissension, but holy orders ; 
because, while you maintain silence, and do not reply 
to the question of faith, your adversary will say in 
truth and in reason : The cause is not orders, but the 
faith. Because they divide the Church, you say, and 
they should not make a head for themselves. Who divides 
the Church ? We, who in the house of Bethlehem are 
in communion with, and who converse with the whole 
Church, or yourself, who thinks it well, or with pride will 
not reply to the question of faith, you do so badly and 
thus divide the Church? Do we divide the Church? We, 
who but a few months back, when close upon the days of 
Pentecost the sun becoming darkened, the world already 
thought in trembling that the Judgment had come, I 
say, delivered to your priests forty persons, men and 
women, for you to baptize them. For in all certainty 
there were in our monastery five priests, who by a just 
title could well have baptized them, but they did not wish 
to arouse your wrath, so as not to give an occasion to 
withhold the questions of faith. Perchance is it not you 
yourself who divide the Church, when you ordered your 


priests who are here in Bethlehem that they should not 
give baptism to any of ours at Easter, and I had to send 
them to Dionysius, the Bishop of Diospolis, for him to 
baptize them ? You will say that we divide the Church, 
who out of our cells have no place in the Church? Is 
it not yourself who divide the Church, when you order 
your priests that, if any one should say that Paulinian is 
consecrated priest by Epiphanius, they should not allow 
such a one to enter the Church ? From that day up to 
the present we gaze solely upon the cave of the Lord; and, 
whilst the heretics have a free entrance, we stand terrified 
and sigh. Is it we who divide the Church, forsooth, or he, 
who denies a dwelling to the living, burial to the dead, 
and, as to the religious, compasses their banishment ? " 

In the letter which he wrote to Theophilus, Patriarch 
of Alexandria, who, as I have already said, was treating for 
peace before he had been fully informed, he says as follows : 
" The cause of the discord, he pretends to say, is on account 
of my brother Paulinian, a man who keeps to his cell in his 
monastery, and the clergy do not call it a dignity but a 
charge. And after having flattered us up to the present 
time with a feigned place, he is now filling the ears of the 
priests of the West with the cries that he is only a 
youngster, and no more than a boy, and that in a parish of 
his in Bethlehem they have ordained him to the priest- 
hood. Whether this be true or not is a thing well known 
to all the bishops of Palestine. The monastery of the 
holy Bishop Epiphanius, called the Ancient, where my 
brother was ordained to the priesthood, is in the territory of 
Eleutheropolis, and not in that of Greece. His age is also 
known to your holiness, and forasmuch as he has reached 
thirty years, I think there is nothing to object to in his age, 
since, conformably to the mystery of Christ incarnate, it is 
a perfect age and full, and I fancy that, when he himself 

2 M 


was raised to the Episcopate his age did not differ from 
that of my brother ; if then this is also allowed to bishops, 
why not to priests ? " Then farther on he continues : 
" A short time since he demanded that we should be 
banished, and he obtained our exile. Would that I could 
carry it out, for just as from him will be taken account as 
to his intention by the act, so also of us not only by the 
intention but by the fact, we should obtain the crown of 
exile. By the shedding of blood and suffering affronts, but 
not by inflicting them, was the foundation of the Church of 
Christ effected, and it increased by persecution." 

From these brave, fervent words, and many more 
similarly ardent ones, which he continues writing, is known 
the warm and great desire St. Jerome had to suffer for 
Jesus Christ, for His truth, His faith, and His Church. 
Small fear did the generous lion feel for threats, or the 
fears arising from the acts of men at the cost of performing 
his duty and running his course perfectly ; he esteems his 
life no more than he does himself, like to another St. Paul, 
doctor of the Gentiles, and thus he adds a little farther 
on : "A monk, alas ! what a sorrow ! demands, holds out, 
and threatens with exile other monks ; he himself a monk, 
who prides himself that he occupies the apostolic chair i Let 
him understand that this race of men knows not what fear 
of the knife is, which threatens, nor cares to cross hands, 
but only to submit the neck. Because who of the monks 
truly exiled himself from his house and country, who is 
not banished already from the world ? What need is 
there of a public authority, and of obtaining writs and 
deeds, and calling at ports throughout the world ? Let 
him therefore tap at the door with his little finger alone, 
and with right good heart we will leave. Of the Lord's is 
the extent of the earth, and all its fulness. Christ is not 
enclosed in any one particular spot." Oh ! great Father 


and great doctor ! What a vivid faith and steadfast spirit ! 
What a true monk ! How grave a defender of the faith ! 
What an irrefragable doctor ! What a lofty contemner of 
the world ! What vivid yearnings for the things of 
Heaven ! Such as these are the valiant ones of whom 
Jesus Christ has said that the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth 
violence, and the violent carry it away ; giants they are 
without doubt in comparison with ourselves, who at the 
smallest childish remark of contempt made to annoy us at 
once turn our backs from the conquest ! 

This glorious doctor of ours seems indeed to us 
another Caleb of ancient times, who now in his old age is 
as strong as at the beginning of the Conquest of the Holy 
Land, and when he came exploring that land, albeit the 
difference be as great as is the shadow from the truth. That 
prince of the tribe of Judah manifested himself of an equal 
heart, both when old and when young, for the undertaking, 
and for entering into the promised land which he had 
before his eyes ; and our monk and saint in every period 
of his age likewise proved himself of well-tempered steel 
and of equal courage to obtain the promised blessedness, 
which is beheld solely with the eyes of faith, saying with 
the apostle : " We do not behold that which is seen, but what 
is not seen." If we remember rightly, with similar words 
did he reply when endeavours were made by the heretics 
in his youth to cast him out of the desert as he does now 
to this bishop (who little less deserves the name), who 
desires to banish him out of Bethlehem. Of the Lord's 
is the earth and all that is contained therein ; in every 
part is Christ, more especially to one who carries Him 
within himself, to one who never leaves Him, as the 
great Jerome, who never quitted his God. Now, at 
this time, among other things, a great evil was done 
by Bishop John against St. Jerome. Eusebius, his 


disciple, had besought him, whereas he did not know 
Greek, to translate for him into Latin the Epistle of 
Epiphanius, forasmuch as it was greatly praised by many 
on account of the elegance of language, and as being 
the doctrine of so great a saint. St. Jerome did so, but only 
that Eusebius might enjoy it. The enemies heard of 
this, and sent a wretched little monk to steal the epistle. 
This he effected, and proceeded to take it to the said 
Bishop of Jerusalem, who paid him well for it in cash. 
From this his rivals took occasion to call him falsifier, 
because he had not translated word by word, and that for 
honourable he had put beloved, and other such like things. 
Jerome then took the opportunity to write his excellent 
epistle, On the Good Manner of Interpreting, which he sent 
the following year to his friend Pammachius, this being in 
the year 395, and the fifteenth of the Emperor Theodosius, 
as is proved from the great eclipse of the sun, of which 
St. Jerome makes mention as being noticed by the 
authors of the Ecclesiastical History. He also declares in 
that epistle that all these falsehoods and snares of John 
of Jerusalem sprang from the cleverness of Rufinus and of 
Melania, his teachers, from whom he had purchased at a 
great price his ignorance ; and would that they had not 
taught him anything, which would have been better for 
him, for all he learnt from them was to pass from the sect 
of the Macedonians to the errors of Origen. Here let us 
pause and consider, and not without tears, who were the 
chief adversaries of Jerome, and the patrons of the errors 
of Origen, and of this Bishop John, Rufinus, and Melania, 
those whom at one time he had so greatly loved, had 
so praised and held in such high esteem. Let the epistle 
of the saintly doctor, written to the said Rufinus from 
the desert of Syria, be read through x ; and all the reason 

1 Efist. 41. 


for the enmity was in poor Rufinus quitting the side of the 
holy doctor, because he then fell into the errors of Origen ; 
and being made captain and the defender of them, he, as a 
consequence, became the cruel enemy of Jerome, who was 
the chieftain of the Church. Among the number of the 
chief defenders of Origen, St. Epiphanius names in the 
epistle the Bishop of Jerusalem, and says the following 
words : 1 " May God deliver you, my brother, and the holy 
people under your charge, and all the brethren who are 
with you, more especially Rufinus, the priest, from the 
heresy of Origen and the others, and his perdition and 
loss." And what further makes the heart ache is the 
sad fall of Melania, that illustrious widow, the pattern of 
Roman matrons, the honour of Christianity and living 
example of Christian philosophy — she whom Jerome judged 
not unworthy to be compared to St. Thecla. And just when 
she was setting out with fleetest wind, her decks loaded 
with most precious merchandise, and in full sail was about 
to take port, she struck upon the port of Alexandria, and was 
wrecked in the quicksands of the errors of Origen ; learned, 
well instructed in the school of Didymus and Rufinus ; and 
from Noemi was changed to Mara, from Thecla into Melania, 
this hapless name signifying the sad ending which such a 
lofty flight was to have. And who that turns his eyes 
to gaze on Didymus can withhold his flow of tears ? For 
of the sightless eyes of so enlightened a man did the great 
Father Anthony feel envious, if he had those of the soul 
so clear and lucid as Didymus had, whom Jerome 
did not disdain to call master, and to whom he gave 
the surname which is only due to the prophets, calling 
him Didymus, my seer; and that subsequently he should 
come down to be more blind in his soul than in the body, 
is this not a subject to be felt and wept over ? He left 

1 Epist. 60 in Operibus D. Hieron. 


the high road, he departed from the doctrine of the 
Church, swayed overmuch by his love of Origen ; and the 
seed which that hapless genius laid was tended and 
fostered to his loss, and brought forth by his disciples 
Evagrius, Isidorus, Rufinus, and Palladius, out of which 
were engendered so many serpents and basilisks that no 
small pestilence was spread in the Church by these most 
pernicious doctrines. Of the hapless Didymus nought has 
remained in the Church (despite he wrote much) but the 
books Of the Holy Ghost, which the great Father Jerome 
translated, and those upon the canonical Epistles : all else 
perished miserably. And lest any one should be mistaken, 
it is well to notice that during that same period there was 
another Didymus, a monk of great sanctity, of whom 
Evagrius tells us 1 he trod under foot scorpions and asps 
as though they were no more than worms and ants. 
Mention is also made of this Didymus by Socrates 2 in his 
history, who adds that he reached the age of ninety-five 
years. From all this will be comprehended with what spirit 
and animus do Palladius 3 and Evagrius speak of Jerome, 
when occasion offers, and always as being an adversary 
they say the worst they can, and to the contrary laud 
Rufinus and Melania to the very heavens. Let this be 
stated here for our example, that we may open our eyes so 
as not to trust genius or sanctity, when in a single point 
either one or other withdraws from the doctrine of the 
universal Church and her traditions ; since this was the 
cause of irremediably imperilling persons who were re- 
nowned in both qualifications, who had attained such lofty 
beginnings, and had such miserable ends. 

1 Evagr., Dt vita SS. 2 Socrat., lib. iv. cap. 18. 3 Pallad., in Evagrio. 


Disputes arise between our holy Doctor, St. Jerome, and 
Rufinus. Causes of the same. 

We have seen what were the dissensions between Jerome 
and John of Jerusalem, and also whence they sprang ; now 
we shall proceed to declare those which arose between 
Jerome and Rufinus. 

Well might our saint have quoted the proverb, which 
sprung up rather from the ingratitude of Aristotle than 
from reason : " A friend is Plato, but Truth is even 
greater." Rufinus is a friend, but what touches faith 
concerns a higher consideration, for it has a deeper root. 
Jerome we have heard declare that he would tear asunder, 
should he hear anything against the faith from his own 
father and mother, their very mouths. The devil will not 
leave in peace the grey hairs of our saintly doctor, and no 
more does the learned doctor leave the devil in peace, but 
wages a continual warfare on him and his followers. 
As we have seen, Jerome had discovered the venom and 
poison of evil doctrines which John was scattering broadcast 
in the East, and to the West he sent a warning in regard 
to this bad process. He had fully comprehended that these 
snares had had their rise in the cleverness of Rufinus 
and in that of Melania, and these in their turn had imbibed 
them from the hapless Didymus. Then began to be 



severed that great friendship, and Theophilus, the patriarch 
of Alexandria, made an attempt to patch it up and heal the 
breach, because between two individuals of such renown 
the breach would be acutely felt. The friendship was in 
some way renewed, but the wound remained unhealed, 
forasmuch as in both parties the wound had reached the 
very bone at the first encounters. Rufinus had seared into 
his very soul the doctrine of Origen, Jerome that of the 
Roman church ; therefore first would heaven be united 
to hell before the breach should be healed. It is vain 
to mend the roof, if the foundation of the edifice be 
at fault. 

Peace thus having been attempted merely on the surface, 
as I have said, and the works of John of Jerusalem con- 
demned in silence, and those of Origen placed under the 
same sentence, Rufinus, whose malice was carrying him from 
bad to worse, wished to come to land, turning his face back, 
like Lot's wife. He judged to go first to Rome, and so as 
not to go empty of the traffic of Alexandria he loaded his 
ship with the merchandise and wares he had acquired, 
carrying the doctrine and perverse dogmas of Origen and 
Didymus very carefully, in order to establish his business 
with them at least in Rome. He arrived there, and 
whereas the mind of man is so variable, eager for 
novelty, and knowing good and evil ever since that 
first lesson in order to be esteemed as God, he opened his 
shop, and there were not wanting those who with the 
same desire took delight in his wares. In the first book 1 
of the Invectives against our saint he narrates this 
same thing of himself. He makes up a dream of Macarius, 
a friend of his, and says that, when composing a treatise 
against fate, doubting some points which had occurred to 
him in respect to Divine providence, God manifested to 

1 Lib. I, Invectiv. in cap. Hieron., Faulus a princ. 


him in dreams a ship coming from very far on the sea, 
and it was revealed to him that on that vessel coming 
to port he would be delivered of his difficulties. Macarius 
awoke, and pondering deeply on this vision, the ship 
arrived which brought Rufinus on board. On entering 
that port, and at once seeking him and conversing with 
him, Macarius recounted to him his vision, and gave him 
an account of his doubts, and in the discussion asked him 
what were the sentiments of Origen on the subjects he 
had proposed to him. Macarius had done wrong in 
telling him of revelations that the ship would free him of 
his doubts, in seeking aught else, and in troubling about 
what Origen felt, unless we should say that Macarius 
did not understand that no other merchandise had come 
in that ship but the doctrine of Origen. And so it 
happened ; the whole colloquy ended in Macarius beseech- 
ing him at all hazards to translate from the Greek into 
Latin the Periarchon, which means De principiis, because 
from that original had been drawn out the chief things 
which had been replied to his doubts. Urged by the 
pleadings of his friend, Rufinus actually did so, and 
promised in a preface he wrote to the translation to follow 
the manner pursued by St. Jerome when translating, 1 
which was to remove all that was not in harmony with the 
purity of the Faith, in order that none of the errors which 
existed in the Greek should be read in the Latin version, 
and so skilfully that in Origen himself no opposition should 
be detected between the texts. For if any be found of 
this in his books, more especially in what touches the 
mystery of the Trinity, different from what in another part 
he had denned piously and in the Catholic sense, he would 
have hushed it' up as spurious and contradictory, or would 

1 Rufinus here praises Jerome very much : of course, in a false way, as he discovered 
later on. 


set it according to whatever rule he found more often affirmed 
by Origen himself. In a short time the pernicious doctrine 
of Rufinus was sown in Rome. It fell into the hands of 
many, with the result that it caused a great scandal among 
the learned and the well-intentioned. At that juncture the 
apostolic chair was governed by Pope Siricius, successor 
to St. Damasus, and he was at the time in the ninth 
year of his pontificate. Siricius was a man of good in- 
tentions, but not of letters. To him Rufinus feigned to 
be very catholic, a very devoted son, while beneath this 
cloak he was disseminating the pestilential doctrine of his 
Periarchon, without the Pope becoming aware of the 
deceit ; although this lasted longer than was in reason, 
because Pope Siricius held the chair little less than sixteen 
years, and the disseminating of these errors lasted over 
four years. 

To Pope Siricius succeeded Anastasius, who very 
quickly comprehended the malice and the wretched 
doctrines which Rufinus was scattering. Here, in passing, 
it will be opportune to declare what the holy matron 
Marcella, the great disciple of Jerome, did at the time. 
Marcella was held in high repute in Rome by reason of 
birth, sanctity, great prudence, and the deep knowledge 
she had acquired in the school of so great a doctor. 
Marcella was the first who in Rome manifested the true 
meaning of the widowhood spoken of by St. Paul, that 
holy state which he declared could properly be called 
widowhood, and she also later on taught what was the 
true religion, for up to that time the holy state had been 
held in contempt. At this epoch there still existed many 
relics of former paganism. Together with the doctrine 
and teaching of Jerome this ho